Editorial: Middle School: A Retrospective

Cassie: Middle School. The ugly stepchild of Germantown Friends; neither adorable, nor attractive. Neither charming nor intelligent. People say only two things are certain; death and taxes, but they would be wrong. In Middle School, I discovered that not only death and taxes prevail into the bottomless depths of eternity, but so did homework, dramatic diary entries, and every year spent in this pseudo-hell. It is beyond me why, at this horrific period of any human’s lifetime, they are stuffed into classrooms, told to grow up, and suddenly bombarded with the most stress they have ever experienced in their entire existence. Personally, I believe adolescents between the ages of 11 and 14 should be sent to remote countryside villages; to mope, run art blogs, and write free-form poetry-graffiti on modern architecture. The goal being, of course, to get over as much of their juvenile cynicism, judgment, and self-hatred to become functioning, thoughtful, kind, members of society. No I didn’t enjoy it. How did you guess?

Rating: thumbs-down

Gabe: Our school does the best it can with such an unsavory series of years, but forgets that mental health is just as crucial to a productive student as physical health. In sixth grade, I was still very young and enjoyed creating artfully crafted posters, pamphlets, and essays, because they felt rewarding, but after 6th grade, it was an excruciating downward rocket ride. I will not bore you with the details of my inability to sleep, anxiety, and less-than-stellar grades, but I will say this, the environment the middle school projects, is one of competitive perfection, which is already a serious problem for teenage girls and boys. The only reason, of course, this competitive perfection exists, is because of said teenage girls and boys. When I say this, I am not blaming teachers, classes, or curriculum, (although they were the bane of my existence). Hating Middle School is unavoidable; it’s practically in our DNA. My advice to future 6th, 7th, or 8th graders: if you ever feel like curling up in a ball and sobbing on a particularly terrible day, after a track meet or a soccer game, with an essay due tomorrow, and a C on your midterm, just know that all that suffering is short lived. Pretty soon you’ll be an optimistic freshman. And ask yourself, how will you become a badass tricked-out butterfly, without sitting in a Chrysalis for a while?

Rating: thumbs-down

Sam:
Middle School. The most uninteresting, depressing, stressful (not really), and wasteful time of my life.  Each day of the week, I looked up at the sky at least once saying, “what is the point?” Sounds depressing, right? Now this may seem like a giant complaint. But it isn’t. I do think it is necessary. Transitioning from Lower School straight to Upper School would just be a pain. It used to be that way. Before 1993, a seventh grader would be in the Upper School and a sixth grader would be in the Lower School. It was that way for 138 years. GFS was founded in 1845, and the Middle School was founded in 1993. So there is a use for it. However, I didn’t like it. That’s it. There is no other way of putting it. “But what about the drama and the fun?” you may ask. Well, here is my response. Middle Schoolers may think they are dramatic. They may think their social lives are interesting. But they aren’t. “Oh my god did you hear about what happened between John and Jane?” people ask. My response (in my head), “No, but instead of telling me, why don’t you hop off a cliff?” It really does escape me how so many thirteen year olds believe their lives are actually interesting. Now to discuss the fun. Yes, I had fun on the camping trips and some of the field trips. But in my opinion, they did not make up for the other parts that weren’t as great. Some people found Middle Sschool fun, that is true. But did they ever consider the amount of work? Or the concepts they were forced to learn? Or the books they had to read? In Eighth Grade, at least, there was a lot of work and the books were not all that interesting. Important, yes, but that does not interest me. I read the books because I had to, because it was important to understand their messages. So, back to my main point, you can forget about the drama and the fun. Sure the 6th and 7th graders that read this can have fun and be “dramatic” for the remainder of this year. But once you get into the dog days of Eighth grade, I’m sure you will look back and say, “I can’t believe I thought I was dramatic.” My advice to current 6th and 7th graders has a couple parts. First, no matter how much pain and agony you feel inside, try to hold it in. Remember, colleges DON’T look at your Middle School scores. It is solely for high school preparation. Second, try to enjoy every second you can of Middle School. Take a lesson out of this and don’t be like me. Look at the bright side. Remember, there is always a tomorrow. So what if you get a bad score on a test, study and get a better score on your next one. Finally, don’t be one of those jerks who is mad about a 95%. Remember, anything above a 93% is an A. Anything between an 86% and a 93% is an A-. I know a couple people who do that. Even worse, I’ve heard one shout out that they were mad about a 97% to the whole class. Anyway, it is important to remember that advice, because I really hope you can make your remaining days of Middle School better than mine. Overall, I’d have to say I somewhat enjoyed Middle School. It taught me valuable lessons, and I even had fun every once in a while. I socialized with my friends, had a few laughs, and even experienced things I never had before. So, from somewhere deep inside of me, thank you Middle School for doing something.

Rating: prayer-hands

Talia: Middle School. It’s a nice idea, really. “A period of growth, change, and development.” We’re quarantined to get over our sickness in the stuffy, outdated Sharpless building, after which we’re released back into the world after three years, fit to be a part of society. In theory, it’s brilliant. But in execution, it fails, not because people don’t enjoy it – they’re not supposed to enjoy it – but because it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, at least not as much as it needs to. Admittedly, for some kids, it’s a vital, albeit miserable, three-year period of change, self-discovery, and growing up. Yet for others, that doesn’t happen. It’s just another three years where school work straddles the line between overwhelming busy work and resoundingly boring nothing. Socially, there isn’t much more change than there is in any other year, and figuring out “who you are” is such a banal and trivial task which people seem to glorify as something exclusive to Middle School when it occurs both earlier in life and after. It ends up being a confining, rather horrible stretch of three years for those who don’t need most of what Middle School has to offer. So yeah, it sucks. There’s that element. Yet some people say that there’s some light in it somewhere. This editor has no idea where in the hell that comes from. Nothing in middle school really matters, there aren’t any real consequences to any actions, at least directly. Thus, with no power comes no responsibility, and with no responsibility comes no freedom. In middle school you are absolutely allowed to figure out who you want to become, but you’re not allowed to be that person yet. So you sit in limbo, waiting for that time to come, and then it does, and finally you’re able to move on, and when you do, it’s not happiness, because you’re too tired, it’s simply relief. Middle School is lonely, it’s sad, it’s boring, and then it’s over, and you’ve got high school, where even if it’s still miserable, you’re at least busier and have free periods. This certainly is not everyone’s experience, and if you can’t relate to this portion of the editorial, there are three more equally valid perspectives here. Yet there are some of you out there who do have this experience, and it sucks, but it’ll be over. Just think of it as an extreme exercise in “patience” that will make waiting in line at the supermarket seem much more manageable.

Rating:thumbs-down

Middle school. Grades six through eight went by in a stressful, embarrassing, awkward to know end, but somehow fantastic haze. Obviously the past three years of English class have made no lasting effect of judging from that run on sentence, but I’d like to think at least a mini middle school lesson has sunk in even if it is something like making wolverine claws in science class generally results in being both impaled and yelled at, or adolescent boys get substantially more grossed out by an unused tampon (let’s remember it’s just cotton and a string) then stuffing dirty socks down each other’s throats Although I can’t remember the equation for photosynthesis, these and many more middle school lessons I’ll carry with me forever. In my backpack, weighing as much as the average sixth grader, is my fair share of teenage angst. You can practically hear the “No one understands me”s being silently screamed by every middle scholar, (along with the drastically misused “literally and “legit”s every other sentence) just walking through the Sharpless at any given time, despite the fact that everyone else is dealing with the horrors of this hellhole too. But no, admitting that your problems are less than someone else’s is a no-no in the world of privileged adolescents. Even though the teachers would beg to differ, middle school doesn’t really matter in the long run, it’s all just practice. Thank God, because if you’re like me, you’ve messed up MUCH more than you ever thought you could in a three year time span. From flirty first dates to frantic final exams, there’s always more than enough room for error. Although it’s mostly a vague blur awkward encounters, I guess it could have been a lot worse. Middle School was certainly a painful growing experience, but I’m sure the time I spent smiling heavily outweighs the time I spent scowling at condescending math teachers, obnoxious comments from prissy teenage girls, or just because school starts at 8:10 in the morning.

Rating: rock-and-roll

All: For our final messages to all of you who read this…

  1. Eighth Grade is harder than Ninth Grade, so don’t freak out.
  2. Try to make your days fun and worth it when you can.
  3. DON’T GET STRESSED OUT.
  4. Try not to go overboard with work. Remember, colleges don’t care about your middle school scores (but still try and get good scores to prepare for high school).
  5. Make friends and for the love of God enjoy yourself!

The Corner Editorial Board