Am I Ready For Middle School? by Peggy Bogaard-Lapp

This week I went to the Parent Open House for Middle School, getting a jump on my fifth grader’s future. As I trudged up the steps to the building, I had a twinge of sadness, thinking about my baby, and how the last few years have been a blur. I realized that I had many of the same thoughts when Erica was heading off to kindergarten. How would she not get lost in the mass of other kids? Who would be there to help her find her classroom, or the bathroom? Just how could I let go of my one and only? I have worked at her elementary school for the past five years, and the staff all know her. At the middle school, she will be just another kid. Will she fall through the cracks? Would she be lost in the nearly 300 students of sixth grade?

Naturally, she was never afraid of going off to kindergarten, and is surprisingly excited to move into middle school. She talks about it at least once a week. My memories of junior high (that’s what we called it – back then) are less than great, and I know I am not alone. I have not found one person who enjoyed it. Finding just the right clothes, hairstyle, joining the right group – so much pressure on a kid! It’s the age, the transition through puberty and the slow growth into independence that makes it tough, with a sprinkle of boy-or-girl craziness added in that makes it a long struggle. I think it’s a good example of what makes us stronger for surviving it.

As I followed the principal, (younger than me, but very experienced and confident) I noticed the walls of the school with posters of anti-cyber bullying, the neatness of the library, the cafeteria and it’s student-use microwaves, and the overall quietness of the building. It was all welcoming, with just the right amount of independence in the air. Each student gets a locker, has an individualized schedule, and gets to choose two elective classes. Small steps toward the larger amount of freedom offered in high school. It isn’t a very big school, and that’s a good thing. Not many long hallways to get turned around in.

I listened to the principal and his informal presentation about the school, the schedule, and the many things offered there, and the school’s security. I heard the counselor talk about helping students choose classes and activities, and learning to use the combination lock on their lockers. While the other parents asked questions, my mind wandered, imagining my daughter in these halls, and I could see that she would be just fine. She has a solid group of friends, confidence in herself, and is a happy soul. I left the school knowing that she would be just fine, and although she will have a few bumps and bruises, she will survive middle school. And I will too.

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