Sixies to Seniors: Is the Middle School Worth It?

Nathan Nozea, Staff Writer

October 20, 2023

For the last century, the Middle School has been an integral part of the Nobles community. Whether through their performances at assembly or solar car races in the spring, the middle schoolers’ sheer energy and creativity constantly add a fresh twist to campus. Despite its impact, some students question the need for middle school, wondering if it truly prepares students for the Upper School.

Many students believe that it does. When discussing her middle school experience, Ekene Madu (Class III) said, “When I first got to Nobles, I was very reserved. I didn’t even want to ask for help…and now, I don’t really think twice about asking teachers [to meet] outside of class hours.” In addition to helping middle school students build confidence outside of the classroom, Madu also believes the middle school prepares students to develop study habits that prove beneficial later on. One of those habits she specifically referred to was utilizing the planner, which middle schoolers are required to do. While some may have found the regular planning tiresome, Madu appreciates the middle school’s enforcement of the rule, saying, “I still use a planner every day…it’s part of my daily routine.” 

The Middle School also helps students become more comfortable with Nobles’ environment and students’ peers. Alex Mitchell (Class IV) said, “[Because of the middle school] I can initiate friendships easier now.” Valerie Lane (Class II) echoes this sentiment. “I didn’t have a super hard transition into high school…because I had a comfortable group of friends coming out of middle school… it was more so a luxury [making friends] rather than a necessity,” Lane said. 

Despite the measures Nobles takes to ensure that the transition from the Middle School to the Upper School is as seamless as possible, a few challenges still arise. This includes the sudden increase in free time. In the Middle School, students have a very structured schedule, leaving no time for free periods. As a result, when they enter the Upper School, many former middle schoolers find themselves at a loss on how to use their newfound free-time effectively. 

“The whole scheduling curriculum thing where they’re guiding you every day of what you should be doing is [tossed] out the window.”

Mitchell said. Another significant change for many middle schoolers going into the Upper School was the length of the school day. Chidubum Chukwu (Class II) said “[because of longer practices, homework] readings, especially the HHC [freshman history course History of the Human Community] ones, really tripped me up each night. I would be working [very late]  on them…in the middle school, we didn’t have to do a lot [of readings].” 

(Photo Credit: Ben Heider)

All of these changes that former middle schoolers experience when transitioning to the Upper School highlight some of the key issues within the academic and social experience offered by the middle school. For example, because the middle school is much more structured than the Upper School, social interaction between the middle school and Upper School can be limited. Anran Liu (Class III) said, “You’re almost always in the [Pratt Middle School] building. You don’t have freedom. It’s kind of hard to get around and see new people.” This structured time also prevents middle schoolers from meeting and collaborating with certain clubs, particularly affinity groups. Madu said, “Half of the time, I wanted to go to [the Black Student Union (BSU)], but when BSU met, I would be 30 minutes into my afternoon activity.” By reducing the accessibility of these spaces for middle school students, the middle school inhibits students from building relationships with their older peers and discourages them from discussing core aspects of their identity. 

All in all, while middle school does certainly prepare you for the Upper School experience, there are still some challenges and issues that need to be addressed. Hopefully, through the new schedule implemented, some of these problems can finally be resolved. To the middle schoolers reading this article, don’t be afraid to move up into  Upper School. While there will inevitably be some changes in the transition, don’t fear this change—rather, embrace it. 

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