Written by Hannah Laub, AmeriCorps Member sering on the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation Team at Kenilworth Science and Technology School

Since returning from winter break, there is something different about the eighth grade at Kenilworth Science and Technology.  The hallways are just a little bit quieter, there are fewer groans when a teacher says that it’s time to write an essay, and students are actually starting to turn in their homework. High school, which so recently seemed like decades away, is suddenly right around the corner. Many students are responding to that pressure by setting higher expectations for themselves.

To help our students with the transition from middle to high school, City Year invited Elvis, a senior at Scotlandville High School, to have lunch with a few of the eighth graders at Kenilworth. Although Elvis came to talk about his experience in high school, he was also eager to learn about each student. He asked students about their interests, goals, and how they spend their time after school. After hearing from them, Elvis talked about the importance of setting realistic goals that you can work to meet everyday. This means realizing that each moment can have a lasting impact, even if it just seems like one more day in middle school. He stressed the importance of being prepared for class, and being ready to give your best effort. However, he also emphasized that having fun and doing things that make you happy is also important, warning students that going home after school just to watch TV or play video games probably would not make anyone happy in the long run.

Many students asked if high school was a lot harder than middle school, or if there was more fighting between classes. Elvis’ response reflected his maturity, and made me even more grateful that he took the time to talk to our students. He said that he had a negative attitude about high school when he was in eighth grade. He explained that everywhere he turned, he was only hearing negative things about his future. However, he reflected that he heard negative things because he wanted to hear them. To find the positive, he explained, he had to decide to look for it. Once he started at Scotlandville, he realized he could find his own positivity, and was able to spend his high school career enjoying his classes, avoiding fights, and becoming more involved in his community. Ayanna, one of the students that had lunch with Elvis, explained that he “helped [her] learn a lot about what to expect and not to expect from high school… Although it may seem hard, it’s you that makes it hard. And if you want it to be easy, you have to make it easy.”

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