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Letters from the wise: surviving middle school

'Remember those nice children who once listened?' Sault Area Middle School student Lilly Dankoff asked. 'There is a good chance they will turn into the complete opposite over the summer'

The 4-H ARTiculate Journalist club members of Sault Area Middle School (SAMS) have reported feeling older and wiser to wrap up the school year, confident enough to pass on some words of wisdom in letters to upcoming fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students.

Graduating from this year's fifth grade class, Audrie Matthews wrote of complications associated with locker combinations. Meanwhile, Olivia Nyboer warned upcoming fourth graders to keep their belongings safely locked away at all times.

Sixth-grade student Lilly Dankoff may have started off her letter with a rather "doomsday" sort of outlook but offered tips to help make it through the year with success.

Caitlin Vore is an eighth-grade student about to enter high school. Vore offered some advice to all of the upcoming seventh and eighth-grade students.

Written by Caitlin Vore to upcoming eighth grade students:

Eighth grade is a year I will most likely forget, but never the teachers who taught me along the way.

My favorite teacher was my English teacher... he is a calm guy. I would share my writing with him and he would read it. We talked from time to time. I really enjoyed all of the stuff he would tell me about. I hope his future students aren't as bad as we were this year.

I liked my health teacher a lot, too. He tried his best to understand our class and teach us accordingly. I truly appreciated all of his effort. I'm so glad he was my teacher. My math teacher was also good at teaching. Math was easy to understand the way he taught it to me.

Mrs. H. helped me to visualize and picture things in my head, so that I could actually see how things were back when they took place. Mrs. W. helped me see the potential I had with creative writing. She told me that I am a very talented writer and will go places. I thank all of my eighth-grade teachers for making the effort to teach me.

Written by Caitlin Vore to upcoming seventh graders:

I remember many things from my seventh-grade year and memories are always ready to be shared.  

I connected with many teachers and staff members. My favorite seventh-grade teacher was my science teacher. You could argue that "playing favorites" is wrong, but I don't care. I loved her teaching style and calm behavior. She was supportive and incredibly honest. She had a "cool mom" type vibe. I wish I could take her class again.

Another teacher I liked was my art teacher. The class was a little loud at times, but she was still a very good teacher. If you took art seriously and enjoyed it, she would help to guide you in the right direction. She provided many memorable tips. The math teacher was also a very good teacher. I'm not good with math and never was, but she made it a little less boring. She pushed me to grow and try my best. She always took notice when I was uncomfortable with something.

Written by Lilly Dankoff to upcoming sixth-grade students:

Sixth grade could be hard if unprepared. Remember those nice children who once listened? There is a good chance they will turn into the complete opposite over the summer.

Your things will get stolen, rumors will spread, and the classroom will get very loud. This will not always happen... if you are lucky.

Something you can do to prepare for next year is keep your belongings safe. I once left my pencil case in class. The next day, I found it empty. Make sure you do not forget anything in a classroom.

Never share too much information. Someone could overhear an embarrassing secret, and it will spread across the school like wildfire. Always talk quietly and be sure others never ever hear you. Do not say too much about yourself to someone you just recently met.  

If you need help focusing when its loud, just ask the teacher if you can work in the hallway, library, or study hall.  Some teachers will be really nice about it and let you leave the room. You could also listen to music with headphones, as long as the teacher allows for it. I know of a teacher who will not allow for it... if you ask kindly, she might.

It is always important to manage your time wisely. You will get a lot of projects to complete quickly with limited time. A good way to manage them is by filling out a calendar with things you should be working on. If you want, you could even include a timer.

I did not manage my time well and I ended up doing almost everything last minute. It can cause you to be very stressed. It would have been easier to just get everything done.

Sixth grade may seem very stressful at first, but you can easily adapt. Just try to have fun and do your best. After all, you can only be a sixth grader once.

Audrey Matthews to new fifth-grade students:

Fifth grade is the beginning of junior high. When you get here, you will need to know how to open up your lockers.

If you cannot get your locker open, you could be late for class, which could put you on your teacher's bad side. If you leave your locker open, your stuff might get stolen.

Make sure to ask a teacher for help if you have trouble opening you locker. The teachers all have a key to the lockers. Still, make sure you learn how to do it yourself so that you can make it to class on time. Sometimes, if teachers are busy, you might have to wait. It is important to know how to open up your locker.

First, spin the dial on the lock to reset it. Then, spin left and stop on the first number. Spin right to the next number, skipping the first number. Stop on the second number. Then, spin left again to stop on the last number. It should open...

It can be complicated, but eventually, everyone will be able to do it pretty easily.

Olivia Nyboer to upcoming fifth graders:

A kid in my class thought it would be a good idea to jam a pencil in the lock of his locker. Doing this opens your locker without having to use its combination code.

Everyone started doing this. Eventually, some students decided to steal stuff. It got so extreme that a kid in my class actually lost his hearing aids, temporarily. One day, another kid's phone was stolen right out of his locker.

Kids, do not put your pencils in the locks, and keep your eyes on your stuff. If you do lose anything, just tell a teacher and they will help look. Most importantly, keep your lockers closed.


4-H ARTiculate Journalist club members wished everyone coming up into their current grades all of the best Sault pride has to offer. 

Sault Area Middle School students prepare to celebrate the last day of school on June 7. The 4-H ARTicluate Journalists club will run throughout the summer  at Sault Area Middle School at 3 p.m. every Tuesday. The club will be under the instruction of Sara Eisinger, reporter for Soo Leader.