Middle school is often thought of as the difficult years for children because of all the changes occurring.
During the adolescent years students change from being primarily family oriented to more peer and social oriented. Adolescent hormones escalate, causing a variety of physical changes, emotional changes and rapid growth.
School changes from staying in one or two classrooms in elementary to switching classrooms and learning a variety of subjects. Behaviors both positive and negative are sometimes displayed as students try to figure out who they are, and what their place is in the school and community.
At Pequot Lakes Middle School, we have programs to help assist students through these adolescent years. Our homerooms help build student to adult relationships and work on personal skills. Curriculum in our classes is challenging, integrating, relevant and meets standards to help keep the students engaged. Exploratory courses such as Project Lead the Way, Computer Applications, music, art and band/choir provide opportunities for students to promote creative thought, critical thinking skills and technology skills.
Physical education classes help support healthy programs. Teachers use different teaching approaches and/or interdisciplinary units that provide interest and social opportunities for students.
Some examples of these this year have been: seventh- and eighth-grade bike trips, fifth- and sixth-grade Read and Feed days, challenge days and chocolate activities.
We are also planning a Pay it Forward theme for March with the students and faculty to promote positive activities and social behaviors.
As we look to next year, we are looking at improving our schedule to incorporate more of these opportunities for all fifth- through eighth-grade students. The schedule will have more common times for all students. It will also have a daily homeroom time to work on a variety of skills such as study skills, social skills, career awareness and academic skills to help prepare students for high school.
Middle school is focused on education and student academic achievement, but to meet the needs of adolescents who are constantly changing both physically and emotionally we need a variety of activities to address these needs.
This in some ways is different than elementary and high school. Middle school students have a variety of needs, lots of energy and an excitement for learning that is always changing.
As a faculty here at Pequot Lakes Middle School we are always striving to meet these constantly changing needs.
(Susan Sergent is Pequot Lakes Middle School principal.)