(below: walking through the streets of Charleston, South Carolina)
I hope you're having a fantastic day! Even since before I graduated middle school (really since like the second day of 6th grade...) I had the idea of making some kind of blog post/video about what I've learned from middle school, and I'm finally doing it! For me middle school was grades 6-8, and I had 6th grade in a large public middle school in Massachusetts and 7&8 grades in a small Catholic school in Pennsylvania. The schools were nearly complete opposites in both size and atmosphere, and l learned much different lessons from both.
First off - Briscoe... ahhh... if you know me personally I have no doubt that you know what Briscoe is, but if not... well you'll learn. Briscoe Middle School is the school that I went to for 6th grade in Massachusetts, it's (well... WAS... the building was almost 100 years old, and no, I'm not exaggerating. a new *million dollar* school was being built and actually opened this past school year, so 'Briscoe' technically doesn't exist anymore!) a public middle school for grades 6-8. It had over 1,000 kids and I had 300 kids in my 6th grade, which I guess isn't all that much compared to some public schools, but for me coming from starting 5th grade with less than 30 kids, it was a big change to say the least. I had finished 5th grade in Massachusetts at the local public elementary school with 60 other kids, who were also mixed into the middle school. Honestly, I could talk about Briscoe for quite some time, but for now I'll just give you the essentials.
Overall, looking back I think that I probably had a pretty typical public middle school experience but at the time it was definitely a hard school year. Academically the school was quite easy, in fact, I barely remember doing any homework at all. It was more of the mental part that got me. Staying late for Cross Country and Track made parts of the year have some pretty long school days, but by the end I think that I was just stressed about being away from home surrounded by kids that I didn't necessarily connect with. Yes, sometimes I look back and realize that I may have just been being a baby, but it taught me some life lessons. I really feel that having the Briscoe experience put things into perspective for me in Pennsylvania. It taught me that the world is a lot bigger than a tiny Catholic school, and there are LOTS more people than kids in your class. As tough as it seemed, that journey gave me clarity and a new perspective.
And now for Pennsylvania. Ahhhh. (and it's a good 'ahhh' this time) After moving back to Pennsylvania right before my start of 7th grade, we decided to go back to our old school, or what was left of it. The area's Catholic schools had merged while we were gone so we were all going into classes of about 2/5 old kids we knew and 3/5 new kids from the area. I can't speak for my brothers but I had an amazing experience in 7th grade. Obviously there were tough parts and it wasn't all unicorns and rainbows, but I made so many new friends and just loved it. (NOTE: "it" as in "friends, teachers, etc." - "it" does *not* include "Pre-Algebra") It was such a fun year, and I went into 8th grade feeling excited but in a much different way. I had kind of made up my mind that it would be very hard to surpass how great 7th grade was, so I just thought 8th grade would be fun being the oldest in the school.
8th grade turned out to be a different experience almost entirely: I was doing the Young Entrepreneurs Academy and was going strong on my blog and YouTube. I feel like 8th grade was the year when all of the puzzle pieces I had hypothetically been collecting fit together. I established a true hatred for Algebra, found a love for design, and made the hardest decision I've ever made - choosing a high school.
Throughout all of this I've found that the most important thing you can do in school is be yourself. I watched so many kids go to extreme lengths just to fit in or sit with the cool kids, and it's not worth it. In the end, when you're not being yourself you'll find that all the friends you make aren't actually your friends, and all of the things you do probably aren't done out of a true feeling. Trust me, I know it's hard mentally and physically, but it's worth it. No matter what parties you get invited to, later in life you'll feel better about yourself, and you'll know that everything you were doing back then was because YOU truly wanted to.
This philosophy of "you be you" was definitely hardest to remember when I had to choose a high school. I could go to the local Catholic high school with everyone else in my grade, or I could go on a full scholarship to the all-girls boarding school (as a day student) in the area to focus on art and design. And I know this might seem like an obvious decision, but trust me, it wasn't. By going to the Catholic high school I could keep all of my friends but I would have to give up on any big dreams of pursuing art and entrepreneurship, (they have an art program but it's not the most fantastic) or I could leave everyone I know and go somewhere that could lead to some amazing opportunities. You may have already guessed where I chose. ;D After months of indecision I've decided to go the all-girls boarding school! I've felt such peace (and excitement) since I made the decision and I feel like the Lord is really making it clear that I made the right decision.
(now with my luck I'll be back at that Catholic high school by 10th grade but hey! I'm taking a chance!)
I know that this post is really long but I really wanted to share my feelings and tell you my plans for the future! Throughout all of this I was blessed to have a super supportive family behind me and that definitely helped. I hope this inspired you in some way and that you enjoyed! Let me know in the comments what you think. ;)