Students in the Barker Performing Arts Center? Yes, it actually happened on January 8 when eighth-graders gathered (socially distant, of course) to hear a panel of upper schoolers talk about the high school experience at TBS. This was a rare occurrence as middle school students have not been in the BPAC since school was moved online last March.
However, the meeting was necessary since the eighth-graders, due to the pandemic, have not been able to shadow the high schoolers like they have in years past. Normally, each eighth grader would be able to schedule a say to go to the Upper School to spend a day on campus with a high school student in order to get a feel for the campus, the curriculum, and student life. So this year, the upper schoolers came to the Middle School and shared information about the high school as well as their own individual experiences. Those students were Zoe Cooper ’24, Briley Crisafi ’21, Hudson Hale ’21, Cole Jernstedt ’21, Sophie Marx ’23, Hailie Miller ’21, Cade Odom ’21, Canyon Rauch ’24, Tommy Rose ’21, and Maggie Smith ’24.
“We talked about scheduling, the freedom in high school compared to Middle School, different classes and clubs, [and] many different leadership opportunities such as Student Council or Honor Council,” said Smith, a freshman.
Many of them shared some helpful advice, too.
“If I were to give the eighth graders advice, I would tell them not to be intimidated by upperclassmen,” said Miller, a senior. “They really are friendly and nothing like the people you see in movies.”
“The most important thing eighth graders need to know before coming to the Upper School is to stay organized and ask for help when they need it,” said Smith. “They should also know that they shouldn’t be scared to ask questions.”
“By the time the panel was done speaking with the eighth-graders, there was really one universal thing we all wanted them to leave with: seize the day, and enjoy it,” said Crisafi. “High school only happens once, and it can go by in a blink. I believe the best advice we had for the upcoming Bucs was to take opportunities whenever possible; jump in with both feet and let yourself soak it all up. Even the not-so-’fun’ parts of high school are a huge part of growing up and being shaped by the experience, so embracing it is the best way to go about it.”
Many of the eighth-graders found the panel to be extremely helpful. Ella Bailey an eighth-grader, was one of these students.
“The Upper Schoolers definitely eased my fears about high school,” said eighth-grader Ella Bailey. “They were great about explaining the transition and what it requires. They also did a] great [job] giving advice that I will definitely use,” she said.
Not only did the upper schoolers dull the eighth grader’s fears, but they also gave them some things to look forward to. “I am definitely looking forward to a new campus and meeting all of the new students and teachers,” said Bailey. “I learned that there are a lot of different opportunities at the high school in academics, sports, and extracurricular activities. I am extremely excited to start exploring these new things.”
Anthony Viverito, another eighth-grade student, is looking forward to the high school as well.
“I am most excited to meeting new students who are coming from other schools, [and] I am also looking forward to taking challenging and interesting classes,” he said. “I learned more about the community of the Upper School. I did not know that all [the] grades mix. Here in the Middle School, grades are more separated and isolated.”Admissions Associate Mr. Chris Nordland also felt the upperclassmen represented the high school well.
“I thought the upper school students did a wonderful job describing their experience, what the day-to-day looks like, and how to get involved at the Upper School,” he said. “So often, eighth-grade students can feel overwhelmed about transitioning to high school, but I felt the student panel helped paint the picture of a warm, inclusive environment where students of all grades mix together.”
Because of COVID-19, the Upper School has had a much harder time publicizing the high school to the eighth graders.
“This year, it is very difficult to showcase our two best assets at the Upper School: our students and our teachers,” said Nordland. “But families, both new and returning, have been understanding and thankful for the efforts everyone has put forth thus far,” he said.
According to Nordland, those efforts have included Upper School Campus tours, Zoom calls, and discussions to help showcase the Upper School.
Experienced high school students such as the ones who came to speak to the eighth graders are an excellent example of how TBS students grow and adapt from one campus to the next.
“I remember these students as middle schoolers,” said Head of Middle School Mr. Charles Hagy. “I was extremely impressed with the growth they’ve experienced during their time in Upper School. They were mature, thoughtful, and articulate – great ambassadors for our fine upper school program and our school values,” he said.