Transition From Middle to High School Requires Adjustments

Izzy Rootsey, Staff Writer

After freshman Violet Castillo finishes practice with her soccer team by rounding up stray balls, picking up cones from drills and folding up goals, she heads home at 9:25 p.m. where a pile of homework greets her.

“I have seen a difference in stress [from middle school to high school],” Castillo said. “In middle school, there isn’t much that affects your GPA, and classes are easier. My teachers expect more from me now, and we cover a lot of things in a short amount of time. Hours of homework are daily and studying is twenty-four-seven.”

Junior Dana Zschau recalls her freshman year, when COVID-19 was its most prevalent. Every student had block scheduling: four classes a semester, each lasting an hour and a half. Zschau said that schedule hurt her education.

“Unlike [other grades], we didn’t have that transition into high school,” Zschau said. “I was drowning in work and was constantly pulling all-nighters just to get my work done. I was intimidated since ninth grade was my first year taking an AP class, and I had no idea what it was like.”

According to senior Kensington Girello, having her ninth grade year cut off by COVID-19 presented challenges, but there was value in staying at West Shore.

“We were in the middle of learning important topics, and then [school] kind of stopped,” Girello said. “Even in those last couple of weeks when teachers found a way to do online school, it wasn’t the same. We didn’t have the opportunity to finish out those skills. I didn’t get a full high-school experience. I saw a difference in how hard the classes were, and that was a hard part of the transition. But it was nice that I didn’t change schools, because I knew the teachers and I was familiar with the school.”

Castillo pointed to another difference between middle school and high school.

“In middle school, I had so much free time, but now I barely have time to go to soccer practice and go to bed at a reasonable time,” Castillo said. “Now, it’s more important for me to do well in school, so I spend more time on homework, resulting in less sleep.” 

Castillo said students have more responsibility in high school.

“My teachers are not only teaching me school subjects but how to be disciplined and responsible,” Castillo said. “I have become more organized, and learned how to manage my time better, especially with soccer. The move from middle school to high school was a smack in the face of what West Shore is going to be like. But it has prepared me for what comes next.”

Eighth-grader Lauren Bender said the transition from middle school to high school is easier due to the school’s junior-senior high construct.

“I heard [the change is] not as bad as it seems, because we’re already at this school and it’s better [to transition] at West Shore than other schools, going from a different middle school to a different high school,” Bender said. “I have heard some of the classes are more work, [but] I already am in some high school classes because I took Algebra 1 Honors in seventh grade, so I am already used to the work.”

Castillo has thought about leaving to go to another school due to stress.

“Sometimes balancing homework with soccer is difficult,” Castillo said. “I get overwhelmed and consider leaving for an easier school, but I know I would not do that. I have great friends at this school, and I would never leave them. I also like being in all accelerated classes because I know it’s going to make me smarter. West Shore is known for its academics and AP classes, and I want to be a part of it. So although I might think I want to leave in times of stress, I really don’t.”

Bender also considered going to another school.

“I did [think about leaving] in seventh grade because I was nervous, and I wasn’t used to all of the work,” Bender said. “But now that I’m used to it, I’m comfortable staying at West Shore. I feel like it’s better because I already have a lot of friends and am used to the workload.”

According to Zschau, there was not much of a decision to make about where to spend her high school years.

“I know that West Shore will provide me with a quality education,” Zschau said. “ I fit in here better than at other schools.”

Castillo said she feels anxious about what lies ahead but is confident in her abilities.

“I want to get good teachers that understand me and teach well,” Castillo said. “Sometimes, I worry about how bad the workload can get, but I know I will adjust to whatever happens and everything will end out OK.”