In late January, eighth graders conversations were abuzz with questions: Are you ready or scared to go to high school? Did you pick out the classes you want to take? Did you get to take everything you wanted?
At the end of each January, eighth grade students begin scheduling for ninth grade. This year, the process started on January 18th when all eighth graders heard a presentation from high school counselors, introducing them to new ideas like credits and GPAs.
The next step was for students to view the course catalogs and draft an idea of what they might want to take. Parents were also notified that scheduling was occurring through emails, though the scheduled parent meeting never occurred due to snow days.
Next, every student met individually with one of the counselors during the final week of January to finalize course options.
Incoming freshmen had little choice for their first-year schedules. English 1, science, math, and World History are required–taking up 4 of the 6-7 credits for the year. Some students had to choose between Honors or general courses or between Biology or regular science. To have those advanced courses as options, students had to be recommended by a teacher. Recommendations were based off of first semester grades and observations about work habits, according to several eighth-grade teachers. Parents and students could sign a waiver form to get into a course that was not recommended (or out of a course that was.)
Students could also pick their elective classes. There are a variety of classes to choose from. Some of those classes include cooking and creating, arts, languages, and physical education. For example, the classes I picked are Spanish 1, Art Foundations 1, and Aerobics. I also picked Cooking and Creating and Digital Media and Production 1, which is a class for creating videos and media concepts for Wildcat Weekly.
Regarding making the shift to high school, eighth graders Lauren Williams said, “I’m very excited but nervous because it’s a whole new experience.”
Jack Farkas said, “The thing I think will be difficult in high school is The Option program, which is a program where all of your teachers come to you one by one and you guys have one-on-one time.” Jack also mentioned transiting between classes and having to keep up with more assignments each day since the high school does not follow a block schedule.
Common worries about the high school from eighth graders is that the work will be “more advanced”and that the day provides “less structure.” Without the middle school set-up of a four-teacher team and with four grade levels of students mixed, high school will offer a change from what students have been used to. Most students also say they are expecting more homework, and many assume that high school will be “more stressful” now that grades all count toward a GPA that will count for acceptance into Exel Tecc programs and college admissions and scholarships.
One common thing that students are looking forward to is more independence. Eighth grader Olivia Lavelle said, “I’m excited because you get all the freedom you can have.” Students taking self-paced courses can work freely in some of the large spaces, and upperclassmen can leave campus if they have their own car and have gaps in their days.
High school senior Grace Frazier offered some advice to eighth graders. She said to “do everything” and “challenge yourself” when it comes to taking more challenging courses. She also recommended finding a group of friends who also want to well and study together. Grace had a busy schedule with varsity soccer and advanced classes, and she said that staying busy helped to keep her motivated.
“The teachers are there to help you,” she said, and she recommended getting to know your teachers and asking for help when you need it.
Eighth graders deal with the stress of making their high school schedule in many different ways. The students can talk to their counselors, parents, and teachers to help guide them. Students can also look up the classes and research what they are, which might also include speaking with older friends, siblings, and neighbors who are currently at the high school.
Regardless of what next year’s schedule looks like, eighth-graders will be making a big transition in just a few months.
This article originally appeared in The Wildcat Voice.