Big Fish Move Into the Big Pond: Advice for 8th Graders

Big Fish Move Into the Big Pond: Advice for 8th Graders

Mikaella Murph, Guest Writer

It’s the first day of high school. You walk down metal steps into an unfamiliar building you’ve not been inside before. You have no idea how hard classes might be, or even how long they are. A new teacher whose name you don’t know starts Biology.


Many freshmen entering the upper school will experience a fish-out-of-water feeling at some point during their school year. However, by the end of the school year, you’ll have some peace and familiarity knowing what high school is all about. Without knowledge about your classes, it is understandable that anxiety might build.

The upper school’s schedule differs greatly compared to the middle school’s and revolves around block scheduling. Classes are an hour and a half long, and only four out of eight will meet each day. Many students, like Sophomore Maddie Conner, say the block schedule is better than having every class meet every day. For Maddie, it allows her to go to bed at a reasonable time because all homework isn’t due the next day.


“I like it because…there’s some days where I just don’t want to do homework, and I can because that class’s homework isn’t due until… one or two days later… I would be staying up to, like, 1:00 am every night otherwise.”

Tara Dolan, a new Junior at Athens Academy, says she likes and dislikes it. She wishes for classes to be a little shorter, but likes how the homework is set up.


“I feel like the classes…are just 20…or like 10 minutes too long. But, I like that we don’t have to do the homework every day, though. My classes are extremely disproportionate, so time management [is important].”


Time management is a very useful skill as Neela Sudhagar, a Junior at Athens Academy, explains. She recommends getting ahead otherwise you may be left behind, especially in junior year, “Live your life. Do not stress about freshman and sophomore year. It gets harder…Make sure to be on top of things…School isn’t everything, but make sure you do as well as you can,” she says.

In order to get into an Honors or AP class, you have to be doing well in your current class. But, the teachers say that they also look at your work ethic and how you might fit into a higher-level class. They try to predict whether you are likely to maintain an ‘A’ or ‘B’ in that higher-level class without sacrificing grades in other subjects.


In most honors and AP classes, you’ll find people who are dedicated to the subject. Difficulty-wise, most of the time honors classes aren’t extraordinarily hard, but that heavily depends on the subject and the teacher. AP classes work in a similar way. 

Athens Academy Sophomore, Nina Kline, says, “AP requires you to be able to understand some things without any guidance or assistance like not every single thing will be handed to you. Some connections you have to draw on your own, but there’s also less busy work.”


But, Senior Carrie Ann Kilgore, Student Body Representative, explains that teachers want to help you, and if you go to them they will. She explains that learning “to advocate for yourself and build a relationship with your teachers [is important] because they’re always there to help you. They’re going to have your best interests at heart and help you through whatever you need, so just take the initiative when you’re struggling or need something.”


Lucy Rentz, a Senior at Athens Academy, encourages rising freshmen to “just try new things and really get involved in high school. And, if something interests you, just go for it because those are the kinds of things that you’re not really going to be able to do again once you get into college.”

Maddie says that after 8th grade, Freshman and Sophomore year do get easier, “I thought that 9th grade and –right now– tenth grade was less stressful and much better… and easier than 8th grade, so just push through, and just know that it’s better on the other side.” 

If you’re ever confused or want to know anything related to the upper school it can probably be found on Athens Academy Student Life, also known as, ACAD Daily. It has everything from recent and upcoming events to the upper school dress code and the honor code if you want to read further.