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Middle School Talk

Real student tips on what 6th graders should know to rule the school.

Drew and Harrison are heading into 8th grade. Friends for more than half their lives, the 13-year-olds attend different middle schools in the same tristate-area town. Though middle school can be a minefield, both boys have thrived, consistently making new friends, making the honor roll and (gasp!) genuinely enjoying school.

As a special assignment from MetroKids, Drew (whose favorite subject is science) and Harrison (who likes history) took a break from a hotly contested Xbox game of Madden ’13 to chat about major middle school topics and give their best advice to incoming 6th graders.

Nice and mean teachers

Drew: When I started middle school, I wondered if the teachers were going to be nice or not. It took maybe the first week to figure it out. Some of them talked really loud and said they were going to give lots of homework. One that I was scared of turned out to be OK once I got to know her.

Harrison: I had one teacher who was kind of weird, but I didn’t care because I liked the subject. So I just did my work quietly and it was OK.

Middle school bullies

MORE REAL MIDDLE SCHOOLERS' ADVICE

We spoke to a few more middle schoolers at the Franklin Institute and online. Here's what they had to say about surviving middle school.

Noah, 8th grade
• Always be prepared and always hand in assignments on time.
• Make sure everything you have is organized.
• You shouldn't go overboard with locker decorations. I've seen it happen a few times and it can go bad really quickly.
• On the bus, take music to listen to.

Libby, 7th grade
• Even if you're smart, you still need to work hard for good grades. I spend all night on my homework and I got straight As.

Ryan, 7th grade
• Don’t worry about locker locks, there’s a teacher that will help if you can’t figure it out.

Harrison: Just ignore them. If you give them something to work on they’ll bully you even harder. They do it to get a rise out of you. You shouldn’t listen. Talk to your friends instead.

Middle school lockers

Harrison: Lockers are fun. The teachers give you practice opening it the first day of school and make you keep your combination in your agenda book.

Drew: As long as you know your combo, lockers are very easy. Same thing with your gym locker, just bring gym clothes.

Harrison: And deodorant. But don’t use too much or you’ll smell like Axe or Old Spice all day.

Middle school dating

Drew: People do start dating in middle school . . .

Harrison: But it’s OK if you’re not ready yet. If someone starts talking about who’s dating who and you don’t want to know, bring up something else. It’s no big deal.

Middle school clubs & teams

Harrison: I’m in band and jazz band [playing trumpet and electric guitar]. I’m also on the wrestling team. Doing so much stuff makes me feel busy and more a part of the school.

Drew: I’m a black belt and on my karate demo team, so I don’t have time to do anything for school. I wish I had tried out for a sport in 6th grade and stuck with it, though.

Harrison: It can be hard to make a team as a 6th grader, so look for a sport that takes lots of kids. The wrestling team usually takes everyone, and once I was on it I just worked hard to do well.

Middle school tests & homework

Harrison: Ugh! [laughs]

Drew: If you have a nice teacher who helps you study in class, you can keep the studying to a minimum later. If they give a lot of homework, you’re going to need to spend more time studying at home.

Harrison: The workload hasn’t been harder than elementary school. If you have a study hall, do your homework then or before your clubs or sports start.

Drew: If teachers give chances for extra credit, take it and try as best as you can.

Making friends in middle school

Harrison: Just go up and talk to someone. Everyone’s nervous at first, so you shouldn’t worry.

Middle School Reading List
Want to know what in-the-know middle schoolers will be reading this year? These books!

Drew: If you’re a boy, talk about sports. If you’re a girl, talk about . . . boys. [laughs]

The middle school cafeteria

Drew: Bring lunch, absolutely bring lunch.

Harrison: I like buying lunch, especially pizza.

Drugs & alcohol in middle school

Drew: If someone tries to sell you drugs, just say no and walk away to tell a teacher. If you’re tempted to do it, say no that one time and find a teacher to tell them you’re tempted and they’ll help you.

What’s good about middle school

Harrison: It makes you feel older and gives you more freedom. You don’t have to walk in a line like you did in elementary school and can talk as much as you want in the halls between classes.

Drew: Just as long as you’re not being too loud!

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