Leadership collaboration with Redwood will not help

March 24, 2017 — by Neil Rao and Alex Yang

Interschool collaboration ineffective.

Dealing with music, sports, volunteering and any other extracurricular activities all while struggling to maintaining strong grades — these are the realities of high school. And the load can be overwhelming for some freshmen.

More than anything, it suggests the dazed and naive nature of first-year students in a demanding setting but also points to a lack of communication and cooperation with Redwood Middle School.

While efforts have been made to prepare students for specific electives in their freshman year, such as the GNN program as a precedent to SHSTV and Media Arts to parallel the high school’s Media Arts Program, there has not been a noticeable positive correlation between freshman readiness and interschool cooperation. Either Saratoga is addressing the wrong things, or direct intervention simply isn’t viable.

Many students see their struggles take shape due to the speed of high school. Unlike middle school, life as a freshman begins to operate at a rapid pace that can feel unrelenting, especially for those who struggle with time management.

These time issues are also a result of the onslaught of extracurricular activities that force students to spend time away from school work. While middle school has very few extracurricular activities that take place outside of school hours other than marching band, dealing with these time issues leads to many challenges.

How can RMS do a better job preparing all students for high school?  For one thing, it would be smart to increase workload to simulate the struggles that rising high schoolers will face. This can be in the form of more projects or a required number of extracurriculars that a student must take.

According to Leadership teacher Matt Torrens, ASB is also looking to work with the Redwood leadership class to help incoming freshmen with the transition. The class plans to have ASB leaders meet with Redwood’s leadership class and advise them on how to inform eighth graders of the troubles they may face in high school.

This is a fine idea, but it is only a small step.

Along with Redwood toughening its course load, incoming ninth graders need more practice at handling days when they have three hours of homework and can’t get started on it until later in the afternoon. Redwood’s weekend-free homework policies do little to pave the way for high school, and by eighth grade, many students are already struggling with minimal homework loads because they don’t know how to manage their time..

At the high school level, weekend homework is the rule rather than the exception. assignments that take more time than a single block day has.

Also, with most students at Redwood coming home either immediately or only an hour or two after school ends, they won’t be used to the more rigorous after school activities paired with the greater homework loads of high school.

Although it might not be easy at first, middle school students who wish to succeed in high school should have more chances to practice the juggling act that high school entails.

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