There are probably all kinds of fancy ways to describe the transition from elementary school to middle school, but 13-year-old Nhat Tran probably put it best: “a small world to a big world.”
Nhat goes to Roosevelt Middle School now, along with another nearly 700 kids. He says he likes it “OK,” but he sure misses the nurturing cocoon that was his elementary school, Think College Now.
Yesterday evening, Nhat and other alumni returned to their elementary alma mater. As part of an agreement that every graduating Think College Now fifth-grader makes in exchange for a $1,000 college scholarship, they must return to an alumni reunion each year, through high school, with their report cards. It’s a way for the school to keep tabs on their students once they leave, and to make sure they stay on track.
Nhat and five other middle schoolers — representing charter, private and district schools — were invited to speak on an “alumni panel,” pictured above, and to answer questions from Think College Now fifth-graders. Here are some words of wisdom I wish I had received when I was 11 (given during the panel and in interviews afterward):
“Don’t think you can go crazy because that’s not true” – Claudia Gonzalez, seventh grade, Lighthouse Community Charter School.
“It’s fast-paced. … Never get behind, because it’s hard to catch up.” – Mario Valadez, seventh grade, Oakland Charter Academy.
“I just want to say, going to middle school isn’t the biggest thing in the world. Just be calm.'” – Viviana Cervantes, sixth grade, Head Royce.
“Don’t let nobody take you down.” – Andre Johnson, sixth grade, Coliseum College Prep.
“If you believe in your dream, then you can achieve it.” – Nhat Tran, seventh grade, Roosevelt Middle School.
What advice would you give to a kid who’s about to enter middle school? Should more elementary schools follow the lead of Think College Now to prepare their kids to move successfully into “a big world?”