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Middle school is key

There are few times as promising as the first day of school. Children entering first grade are aglow with both apprehension and excitement; their parents are proud of their little ones who are growing up.

Teens entering high school are staring their final four years of primary education in the face. Freshmen will have many opportunties at their new school to carve out their own niche, both educationally and extra-curricularly.

The students entering their first year of middle school are a different breed altogether. They are taking their first step of a path that will  transfrom them from child to teenager. The anticpation was palpable as incoming sixth-graders were oriented to Whiteaker Middle School this week. More than 200 kids spent most of the day on Monday learning about the rules and regulations, location of classrooms, schedules, and how to use a combination lock for their lockers.

As exciting as it is for the incoming middle schoolers, it is also a time to realize that this the time when we can get kids hooked on learning. In grade school children learn the basics that are used to build their knowledge in middle school. Middle school is the place to instill, if not a love, then the joy of learning.

Middle school is when kids learn about teamwork and cooperation. Extracurricular activities start to play a larger role in their lives, be it athletics, choir, band or some other activity. We must not forget that their education is job number one.

Children really have only two jobs:  get an education and see how far they can bend the rules.  It’s been that way forever. It is society’s duty to assure that not only do our children receive a quality education, but that they are engaged in that education. Everyone learns in their own way and at their own pace; this becomes especially important in middle school.

It should be a never-ending mission to work to maintain a child’s enthusiasm for school from the first day in middle school right through graduation from high school.

The kids at this week’s Whiteaker Middle School orientation (called Wolverine Camp for the school’s mascot) were attentive and eager. Boys and girls alike were eager to answer questions about themselves. They were attentive to the directions of teachers and the principal Laura Perez.

Next week kids will enter middle school life. Wolverine Camp is designed to make the transition from grade school easier. Today they are children; by time they leave in three years they will be teenagers. If all of us grown-ups do it right those kids will also leave wanting to learn more and more.   —LAZ