How Well Does the Middle School Prepare Students for High School?


Mr. Crisafi

Mr. Ream goes over a math concept during his E period Pre-Algebra 7 class earlier this semester.

Knowledge, respectfulness, and friendliness. These are some of the assets that the middle school faculty and administration hope the Benjamin students acquire before they depart for high school. Though the eighth graders are not quite ready to leave the Middle School, the hope is that the knowledge they have gained thus far will prepare them for whichever high schools they will attend. However, is that really the case?

“I think [the teachers] made the work harder than last year because they know the high school work is more intense,” said eighth grader Andrew Moffitt. “Making the eighth graders work hard gives us good study habits for high school, [so] I think they prepared us very well.”

Likewise, eighth grader Sophie Marx feels ready for high school because of the support she received from her teachers.

Mr. Crisafi
During one of her science classes, Ms. Featherston helps eighth grader Will Harris with a lab.

“TBS prepared me for high school because my teachers really helped me understand the assignments,” said Marx. “Any time I need help, I know I can go in before or after school to see them. The hard work the teachers assigned to us really gave me good study habits which can translate to high school.”

According to eighth grader Ryan Motto, he believes the rigor and workload in Middle School has given him a good idea of what to expect at the next level.   

“I think the tests, quizzes, homework, and essays we get in Middle School [replicates] almost exactly what high schools do,” he said. “That is why the Middle School prepared us for high school.”

What about the teachers? Do they feel they have set their students up for success at the next level?

“I hope I have prepared them well by teaching them to read deeply, by having them annotate, which I know they hate, but it will help them extremely well in high school because they will be able to read deeply without annotating,” said English Department Chair Mrs. Kathleen Devine. “I think that the fun writing we do – writing to the bones – gives them the opportunity to sharpen their individual writing voices,” she said, referring to the five-minute writing prompts she gives her eighth graders. “When my old students come back they always thank me and the other members of the English Department for preparing them so well for high school, but more importantly, so well for college.”

Middle School Math Department Chair Mrs. Cathryn Hansen feels students are prepared for high school because they are already taking higher level courses in the Middle School.

“Three-quarters of the classes I teach are high school courses, so when you come in the class for an Algebra 1 or geometry class, you are [basically] in high school, and so this is how you are going to be treated,” she said. “So the pace is a little faster, the homework a little bit more, and the depth we go into is a little bit more intense, and the reason why is because you are taking a high school course as it is.”

Eighth-grade history teacher Mrs. Anne Franzen believes her course helps bridge the gap between middle school and high school. “The history curriculum has a lot of writing, which helps students in all areas in high school,” she said. “In the History Department specifically, students have worked on multiple-choice assessments, as well as using primary sources in their writing of DBQs [document based questions]. We have also spent time in class discussing the choices made [by leaders and countries] in history, which will lead next year’s’ students into the second half of world history.”

The statistics from the Upper School seem to support what the students and teachers say. Last year’s graduation Class of 2018 consisted of 111 students, all of whom were accepted to 158 different universities around the nation. Plus, many of the students who matriculated to Benjamin’s Upper School from the Middle School are excelling academically.

Four of the seven National Honors Society (NHS) officers in Benjamin’s chapter this year and 59 of the 104 NHS members overall – more than half – came through the Middle School. In addition, of the School’s 17 congressional medal winners this year – which recognizes students in four program areas: public service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration – 14 of them came through the Middle School, including both gold medal recipients.

Many students who have moved on from The Benjamin Middle School have also achieved recent success at the Upper School over the past few weeks. Noelle Matese ’19 placed first in Florida’s HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) competition and will compete in the international competition in Orlando this summer. Briley Crisafi ’21 was awarded first place in the 10th-grade category of the 2019 English Essay Contest sponsored by the Palm Beach Branch of the English-Speaking Union for the essay she wrote about the play Fences. Caroline Moody ’20 recently placed 12th in the Original Oratory event and 3rd in the Impromptu event at the Florida Forensics League’s State Championship Tournament last month.

Achievements such as these prove that the Middle School does well in preparing students, setting them on a path of success where they not only “get through” high school, but thrive, flourish, and welcome the challenges and opportunities high school and the world have to offer.