January 19: Preserving Childhood while Preparing for High School
I hear two comments from parents about Burgundy on a regular basis. The first is “I wish I could have gone to Burgundy!” or, my favorite iteration, “I wish I could go to Burgundy!”
The second comment I receive pretty often is, “I wish Burgundy had a high school!” This one is offered with equal conviction (and not only from 8th grade parents who may be agonizing through the high school application process). And it is, honestly, equally flattering. But I am not as enthusiastic, and here’s why…
Reason #1: the minute you have a high school the focus is on college acceptances. Reason #2: See #1. Burgundy preserves a bonafide childhood better than a larger, K-12 type school. Competition does not prematurely become the end-all, and there do not have to be winners and losers in everything; the focus, even in middle school, can be more on the personal journey than comparing. In middle school this matters a lot, where the self-image can be fragile. The social stuff typically remains innocent here compared with other middle schools and schools with high schools. Maintaining intrinsic motivation with that positive self-image also is a huge advantage going into high school, when Mom and Dad become more resources than daily keepers. Reason #3: our kids, with years of experience at Burgundy in thinking for themselves, have an uncanny sense of where they will thrive in high school, and they (with their parents’ blessings) make excellent choices, attending a remarkable array of the region’s and indeed the nation’s best high schools (and later best colleges). Check out the lists.
So, thank you, but we won’t be building a high school anytime soon, if I have a say in the matter! (Enough construction for now, and we have enough new spaces to enjoy for a while!)
Finally, on a more serious note, and still speaking of transitions: 5th grade parents, please don’t forget that the orientation evening for rising middle school parents is this coming Tuesday. It’s a very helpful program. Others, if you’d like to discuss the high school question, or talk about where our kids go to high school (or yes, even college), I am available for lunch! Cheers.