As the school year begins, the 9th graders are entering the first year of the “big leagues.”  Upper School.  The last stop before college.

They are eager to leave Middle School, but apprehensive about what this new year will bring.  Whether it’s their first or their tenth year at Harrisburg Academy, they all know too well that it is a transition year.  Parents, teachers, and siblings have made them keenly aware of this fact.  What they may not know yet is that the transition is not as big as they might expect (or fear).  Because at the Academy, in our small-school community, there are definite perks to being in the Upper School.

As freshman, they will begin each day in the upper hallway which they share with the sophomores.  Here they will make lasting friendships with their own classmates, as well as their older peers.  With 10 percent of the Upper School student body composed of international students, they will make friends from other countries, which will give them an opportunity to experience new cultures.  Maybe, in years to come, they will follow in the footsteps of others who’ve had the added benefit of going home with these students over the summer break to experience a different culture first hand.

I may be partial, but the freshmen have the coolest class advisors – Mr. Kreider, Mr. Frengel, and yours truly, Mrs. Pastor.  During this advisor period, which meets every other “day 7” in the class cycle, they often share snacks and stories with their friends and peers in the freshman class.  They learn about specific issues that affect them as freshmen.

Another perk?  Free seating!  That’s right, as 9th graders they have graduated from the mostly assigned seating in Middle School lunch to the Upper School lunch, where they are able to sit with students from other grades… Which is also on the opposite side of the lunchroom from their teachers!

On the academic side, they will find out why math is not a spectator sport from me, what the “deadly minus five errors” are in English from Mr. Frengel, and learn to write a historical investigation with Mr. Kreider.  Yes, it is a transition year, but the new-found independence makes it worthwhile.

Welcome to the big leagues!