Eighth-graders tell how they survived sixth grade

August 18, 2009|By EMILY WARD / Pulse correspondent

Starting middle school may seem a little bit scary. There are new schools, new teachers and sometimes new lockers to deal with, along with many other new things.

Middle school can seem tough at first, because elementary school seemed easier and smoother. Plus, you're going from being a kid to being a young adult, and suddenly people might be expecting a lot more from you.

"Entering middle school was extremely scary, but very exciting," said Nicole Downing, 13. "I was finally going to see where all the graduating fifth-graders went after years in elementary school."

Nicole, formerly of Hagerstown, recently moved to Florida where she'll be an eighth-grader at Seven Springs Middle School in Trinity, Fla.


Nicole said she thought it was nice that she would get to switch classes and have a different teacher for each subject.

"In case I didn't like one or two, I wouldn't have them for the whole day," she said.

One of the things she liked was she would have "a cool locker" to put all her stuff in.

"Finally, I wasn't going to be in a school with all the little kindergarteners, but with kids who were all around the same age," she said.

Nicole admits she was still a little terrified. "Fears went through my head the week before school started: What if I got lost? What if I couldn't open my locker and forgot the combination? What if all the teachers were mean, or the kids bullied me? Would I even make new friends?," she said.

But Nicole said she was OK when she got to school.

"Everybody was in front of the building, talking and meeting new people," she said. "No sixth-grader knew what to do. I wasn't alone. I soon found out that I had wasted time and energy worrying so much."

To help her get through that first week, she wrote her locker combination down in a safe place so she wouldn't forget it.

"And whenever I couldn't open my locker a teacher was always standing by to help," she said.

Her school gave her a map, which also helped a lot.

"Yes, it was scary, but soon everybody got used to things and their fears were gradually forgotten," she said. "People memorized their locker combinations and where their classes were. They talked about which teachers they liked and didn't like."

Nicole said she ended up liking sixth-grade. "We all liked the new freedoms we had, and there was much more space than elementary school," she said. "We all missed elementary school, but we had to move on. Sixth grade was a true experience that I will never forget."

Giselle Garnett, 13, an eighth-grader at St. Mary School, said three tips helpded her survive sixth grade.

Remember to bring all of the right books you need to the right class.

Get a durable book bag that will last you all year.

If you bring your cell phone to school, be smart put it on vibrate. (Or better yet, leave it home the first day so you can check with your school if cell phones are allowed).

Madison Kutzera, 13, an eighth-grader at St. Mary School, also had some ways she got through her first year in middle school.

First, write everything down.

"You'll have extra information to study from and for homework," she said.

Secondly, be on time.

"Don't do everything at the last minute because you might forget," she said.

Most importantly, she said, have a positive attitude.

"Middle school might be different," Madison said, "but it's a lot of fun. Just try your best."

Hints for surviving middle school

1. Try not to procrastinate or hold off projects until right before they are due. This will make it much more stressful than it needs to be, and you probably won't do as good of a job.

2. Plan ahead and stay organized.

3. Don't worry about getting lost or not remembering your locker combination because there will be many teachers waiting to help you, and many schools also give you a map.

4. Do not study for tests the day or night before, or the morning of the test.

5. Most teachers let it slide if you walk into class a few minutes after the bell, so don't worry too much about being late, as most kids are in the first few days.

6. Try not be absent unless you really can't help it, or you will fall behind.

7. Get plenty of sleep.

8. And the best tip: Have fun in middle school! Enjoy it. You only get to go to middle school for a few years, so you should make the best of it.

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