High school and middle school align to ease student transitions

Nasra Artan, Staff Writer

Throughout the years, middle schoolers have been sent to high school with very little knowledge of the courses, class schedule, and high school expectations which has made it difficult to adjust. As of recently U-City and Brittany Woods will be aligning to better create a smoother transition for U-city’s upcoming freshmen.

“Prior to this year, there was a building leader there that wasn’t interested in collaborating with me,” Dr. Michael Peoples, principal and director of secondary education, said. “We have a new principal at Brittany Woods middle school, who I’ve met with extensively in the lead up to this school year. And we’ve engaged in a great deal of planning around aligning certain things between our buildings. One being that now Brittany Woods is on a similar bell schedule to ours where they have A, B, and U days.”

A pattern seen a lot in freshmans is the struggle for them to arrive on time to classes. With the schools finally having similar block schedules, upcoming freshmans will be able to grasp the concept prior to their enrollment to the high school making the transition easier and the halls less crowded. 

“They’ve also changed their class length to 90 minute blocks, the same way ours is situated,” Peoples said. “They also changed their grading practices too so that their grade weighting closer reflected ours.” 

“Middle school didn’t really prepare me as much as I would’ve liked,”  Zofia Reed, senior, said. “They [freshmen] are taught that this is the big leagues and now they have to take their academics seriously but the pressure is too much; we weren’t taught all the resources given to us.” 

A common struggle among many middle schoolers is their lack of accountability, with many seeing middle school as a waste of time. Peoples and the board are working to make sure they see positive changes come to the middle school. 

“In years prior, students have been able to behave in ways that didn’t carry any accountability. Whereas now, the expectations and the accountability around student behavior are similar,” Peoples said.

The main objective of the alignment is to ensure the success of incoming freshmen, but in order to do that they need to be given the needed tools to help themselves. With all the new resources and changes, the principals are doing their best to provide the students with as much assistance necessary to smoothly transition to the high school.

“When students come to us from middle school, that 9th grade year is a challenge,”  Kimberly Austin, associate principal, said. “You are going from a system where you are just earning grades without credit to earning grades with credit.” 

For many years, the middle school didn’t have a system where middle school students could get high school credit but they do now. With that, we even have high school teachers who go to the middle school to better assist with high school level learning. 

I think it prepares the students mentally and physically for high school,” Amelia Fowler, sophomore, said. “I think the transition from middle school into highschool is going to be much better, with the recent changes that were made at the middle school.”

Nasir Austin, freshman, thinks that adding more class variety might help with the transition. 

“If Brittany Woods would offer students the chance to take more advanced classes then that would be a great change,” Austin said.  

Beginning to condition students early to a rigorous curriculum and similar routines that will stay with them throughout their high school life will increase their chances in adapting to their new environment and leave less room for struggling to adjust to a new norm.

“I had a big transition, because it was nothing like high school,” Makayla Stewart, junior, said. “I thought they were preparing me a little more, but when I came here I was shocked. I was not ready for this. I like high school much more than middle school. Our teachers make sure to get us extra help.”

In addition to support from teachers and the school district, it’s reassuring to know that fellow classmates and upperclassmen are being supportive.  

“ I would like to see the seniors encourage and uplift the freshmen and treat them like a little brother or sister.” Nasir Austin said.