Middle school is a long three years of life, and the innate awkwardness of it can make the experience hellish for some people. Others say that it is not so bad, or even fun (I question your sanity, but ok.) Because no issue can be debated without the input of your favorite editorial board, our editors reflect on how we feel about middle school as we are leaving it.
Middle school could be a nice idea, if it were executed completely differently. The progression from self contained classrooms to full departmentalization was far too slow, and every sixth grade class always thinks that it is way too “cool” for its own good. A serious annoyance to 2/3 of the middle school is their underclassmen; the sixth graders have, in my experience, been almost universally hated by the seventh and eighth graders. I personally have made great friends and have had a minimal amount of friend drama after seventh grade, but watching the rest of the grade switch around and cry and backstab their way through middle school really grated on me. Having friends in those other groups drew me slightly into all of this drama. The whole middle school is trying too hard at all times, and each grade complains more and more about their “unbearable’ level of homework and tests relative to the younger grade or grades. In addition, the “dating” thrown into the mix just further complicates the stew of hormones, braces and schoolwork, simmered in almost no air conditioning, that is the middle school. Everyone here is in too much of a rush to grow up, dating and kissing and wearing less clothes to try to be older. High school and college and the outside world are nothing but a dream that both helps you get through and helps your teachers get you to do things because they’re “preparing you for high school.” I have had some great teachers, and have made good friends that I’m sad to leave next year, but overall the whole middle school experience sucked. Sadly, you have to do your time in the prison called Sharpless; no matter how many boy/girlfriends or friends you have, time is a cruel thing, and you have to serve your full three years in this hell.
Middle school was three years of awkwardness. There is no denying that. One of the key life concepts we were supposed to achieve by eighth grade graduation was a sense of independence. As we moved from departmentalization, to core groups and then to the more traditional, personal schedules. I do feel more independent, but independent enough for high school? We’ll just have to wait and see. I do feel like middle school is the perfect excuse to say, “why did I do that.” It’s the most convenient excuse for our inevitable, cringey, awkward stages. So for that I’m thankful. Yet the overall aesthetic and reasoning of middle school puzzles me. Keeping 250 preteens and teenagers in a building for eight hours a day seems like a recipe for disaster to me. And in a way it was. Throughout all of middle school there were points where I was stressed, socially frustrated and exhausted. Sometimes all at the same time. But looking back my experience was pretty ok. I did have a lot of fun, I met some of my best friends and I learned some valuable life lessons. So I guess it was successful.
Middle school is a time that is typically looked at as a horror story, one that changes its victims forever. Since I have a older sibling I heard a lot of stories (some made up) about teachers and the workload in middle school. Things like you will be doing at least 3 hours of homework a night, although this is definitely a exaggeration. Middle school at GFS is meant to be a bridge between the lower school and upper school that teaches students what will be expected from them in upper school. Coming to GFS in 6th grade I was worried that I would not fit the image of the “ideal” GFS student. That is being very smart, a athletic star and music prodigy. I am none of those and then I realized that being just the average kid is fine. GFS pushes for students to go above and beyond expectations from the very start of kindergarten to 12th grade. When I started in the GFS middle school I did not realize how different the work load would be from my expectations. The workload was not very time consuming but it took thought and did not contain mindless homework assignments. A quote that I think suns up my middle school years is “Hit the ground running”, this is because at GFS if you fail to complete assignments or do not study for exams and tests it will most likely have a domino effect, maybe it will not affect you in middle school as much but in upper school that is a recipe for failure. I believe that my time at GFS so far has been very good, I have made good friends and have begun to learn how to be successful as a student. The GFS middle school teaches kids how to succeed not only in school but far beyond, the skills I have learned in these three years are ones that will help me far into my life. For example how to use your time efficiently and to take responsibility for your actions. I am excited for what the GFS upper school has to offer and I know that it will be a interesting experience no matter what.
Middle school is a strange time in between Lower school and Upper school. In Lower school, you are treated as a child. In Upper school, you are treated (most of the time) as an adult. However, in Middle school, you are somewhere in the middle. You don’t really have full independence, yet you also can’t rely on other people as much. Because of this, it’s a tough time of transition between childhood and adulthood. I can see how it would be really hard for other people to adapt to these changes. Having been at GFS since Kindergarten, I can hardly remember my times in lower school at all. Lots of embarrassing things have happened in Middle school to everyone, but ultimately most of them will be forgotten. This causes it to be an interesting time where people can experiment with who they are, for people never to remember how terrible some of those things that they have done were. And for that reason, I enjoyed Middle school overall.
Middle School is 3 years of “eh” in its purest form. While nothing is too bad and most people have the perspective to not care too much, it wasn’t too fun. Many people, myself included, did not and still don’t know how to manage the relatively trivial homework load; however it being Middle School, that had a minimal consequence. It was stressful and unpleasant, and especially in 6th grade, a good percentage of the grade were quite moody. That coupled with a constant pressure to be angsty, with edgy teens all around created a less than ideal environment. Tolerable, though, and possibly even educational.
Overall, middle school is quite difficult to execute, but it works for some people. But for others, the theory just doesn’t add up.