To my teen starting eighth grade,
You just started eighth grade and this will be an exciting year for you! My gosh, how did this happen? How is it possible that you are growing up this fast? I see you changing right before my eyes and it’s incredible to watch.
This will be a very special year for you. Eighth grade is a big finale that celebrates the end to all your middle school years. It will also be spent preparing you for what’s to come next: High School.
There are some things I want you to know before you begin this exciting new school year. There are expectations and responsibilities that are important and necessary for you to continue to uphold because we want you to not only become a successful student, we want to raise you to become a good man.
Be a good leader.
Now that you will be at the top of the heap, the highest rank, the leader of the middle school pack, please remember to take your new role seriously. Set a good example for others and especially for the younger kids to follow. Show them how to be mature and responsible, caring and compassionate. Follow the rules, just because you’re older doesn’t give you the right to challenge them or ignore them. Instead, respect them, always. They are there for good reason. And be respectful of all the students, and all the teachers, because that is what we expect you to do. Being a good leader means being the kind of kid who does the right thing even when it’s hard.
Always be kind.
Be kind to the kids who are younger than you and especially to those innocent sixth graders who are roaming the middle school halls and trying to figure out the ways of the land. Help those kids you see who might be lost or looking scared. They need older kids to show them the way. And be aware of the kids who might not be included and invite them to join you when you see them sitting alone at lunch or at special school events. Be the “nice guy” to everyone and the kind of friend people can trust. If you see someone being treated disrespectfully, step in and do the right thing. If you’re not comfortable in the situation, then get a teacher to help. You are old enough and know better than to ignore bad behavior.
Take pride in your work.
Work hard and listen well. Respect your teachers and be responsible with your homework so you can be prepared for your high school courses next year. You know how to be accountable and what’s expected of you, so keep focused and do the best you can in the classes you have this year. Your hard work will pay off and keep you moving forward with your academic goals. I know it can be boring and tedious, overwhelming and stressful too, but you are smart and hard-working, so keep at it and you’ll be glad you did. High school will bring with it more academic pressures and you are developing the study habits you will need to succeed.
Make good choices.
I know you have seen inappropriate things and experienced so many questionable situations in middle school. I’m so proud of the way you have navigated wisely through it all and kept out of trouble. As you get older, you’ll see more people making poor choices that raise the bar higher along with the consequences. Please be smart and make wise decisions to steer clear of such things. Some of these activities may be tempting, but I want you to truly understand that your choices can impact the trajectory of your life. Don’t be foolish and impulsive, you know better.
Each new school year brings more responsibilities to your life. It’s what happens when you get older. So, it’s important you continue to learn how to manage your time and prioritize what’s most important. This is the year to hone these skills because you will need them to be successful in high school. Juggling your schoolwork and sports, your band and other activities, as well as your chores and family time is a lot, I know. Your busy and that’s great, but be mindful of how you handle it all. Remember that it all takes a lot of effort, but the payoff is worth it.
I know you are tired of middle school and can’t wait to get through this year. I know you are anxious to start high school, with hopes of growing up fast, making new friends, and trying out for sports teams where the competition is more exciting and the training is hard. But be patient and enjoy this last year as best as you can. There will be good things you don’t want to miss. Enjoy all the fun opportunities middle school provides and soak it all in because as much as high school is the light at the end of your tunnel, it brings with it, hard work and pressures you are not yet ready to face.
We are so proud of how well you have done up until this year and we are so excited to watch you take your last steps on the middle school ground and first steps into high school soon. This is the year where great growth takes place and expectations are raised to new heights. Take it all seriously because this is the year where you prepare to launch into bigger goals and broader views. By the time you finish eighth grade, you’ll be ready for all that high school brings.
But don’t be in such a hurry to get there…
You still have much to learn before you do.