Are you a rising 9th grader?

I have a message for you.

Do you remember your first day of middle school? I do. I was your principal. Just kidding! Not your principal, but I was a middle school principal for several years, and trust me when I tell you this –  we principals have a special place in our hearts for the overgrown elementary school students who arrive at our schools for the first time as sixth graders.

This love we have for you isn’t something we learn in principal school. It’s not taught to us, it’s not a certification we earn. It comes from inside of us. It comes from our own experiences. It comes from us wanting to be there on your first day, almost called to be there on your first day, to see your exciting and scary and rewarding new lives begin to unfold. We know this time is going to be special for you, whether you’re aware of it yet or not.

It goes by so fast, middle school. Think about how quickly you went from having everything done and planned for you – meeting up with your friends, extracurricular activities, schedules, meals, snacks, clothing – to where you are today. Have you come a long way?

In high school, your life is going to start opening up. You’re going to learn about choices, consequences, and accountability. You’re going to do things with your hair, mix-up your fashion sense, figure out your opinions, and weigh the pros and cons of the chances you’ll take.

You’re going to see where hard work gets you.

You’re going to see where being lazy leaves you.

You’re going to see that your years in middle school set you up well for the things you’ll need outside of the classroom in high school.

Your middle school years taught you simple life lessons that will always be of value and will never go out of style – looking people in the eye, delivering a firm handshake, having good manners, and keeping yourself organized when you’ve got more than one teacher.

Your middle school years taught you about more complex lessons, too – being honest even when it’s uncomfortable, learning about financial responsibility, time management, setting goals, achieving goals, or what to do when you don’t achieve your goals.

Your middle school years got you ready for high school. We principals don’t want you to forget this.

Your move to high school comes with a mix of emotions, and you’re no doubt using the time between now and your first day as a high school freshman to look forward. As you should! But while you’re at it, I encourage you to think about the middle school teachers and administrators who have helped guide you to where you are today.

For them, this has been a precious time. They’ve had the pleasure, responsibility, and honor of supporting you as you’ve developed from fully dependent to largely independent beings. They’ve helped you learn to make your own decisions and live with the consequences. They’ve worked with the adults in your life on how to ‘let go,’ and when to push or pull you.

So, as you move in to high school, I want you to understand that your middle school years mean a lot to us, too. A lot of time and attention and hope and trust and confidence has been invested in you, and now it’s time to show your high school self that your middle school self isn’t going away – it’s moving up.

It’s a bittersweet feeling. More of these are in your future. You’ll see.

What’s ahead is up to you. Make us – the teachers, the parents, the principals, us principals – proud.



Article written by Wendy Amato

Wendy Amato
Wendy leads education efforts across WorldStrides' family of brands, helping students of all ages realize transformative learning experiences through travel. When she's not planning innovative professional development for teachers, writing online courses for students, or leading WorldStrides' re-accreditation efforts, she's typically baking chocolate chip cookies or telling (bad) jokes to make her co-workers smile.