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From online to ‘amazing’: Catholic school students reflect on their middle school years

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SAN DIEGO — Around 1,080 eighth-graders will graduate from Catholic elementary schools in the San Diego Diocese starting in May. Dozens from schools across the region share their experiences here — and the lasting lessons they are taking with then from their Catholic education.

Good Shepherd Catholic School

Jaser Alcaraz
I would describe my middle-school experience as a rollercoaster. During the three years, there were many ups and downs of emotions – downs being distance-learning and COVID-19, not being able to see friends and teachers, and ups being winning awards, like honor roll and Disciple of Christ, and really realizing that hard work always pays off.

The most important Catholic school lesson I’m taking with me to high school is to respect the diversity and dignity of each human being. It is very important to respect everyone, even if they are different, because my actions show what kind of person I am, and it is important to be a good Catholic and to be more like Jesus.

What I am looking forward to in high school are extracurriculars and the community. I am excited to meet new people and make new friends, as well as connect with people who have similar interests to me and build deep relationships.

Isabel Novak
I would describe my middle-school experience as eventful. I came from a public school during the middle of COVID. At my old middle school, I was still online, so when I came to Good Shepherd, I went straight into in-person learning. There, I had the opportunity to learn more about my faith and practice it more because I wasn’t as knowledgeable and comfortable with my faith as I am now. As the restrictions loosened up, I am glad I got to participate in activities like the MCA Mass and going to camp with all my friends.

One of the most important lessons I’m going to take with me into high school is being open about my faith. At Good Shepherd, I was able to practice my faith openly and, as citizens of America, we are able to openly practice our religions so I will continue to do that.

Nativity School

Annie Murphy
I was at a different school and learned online until April of my sixth grade, so I didn’t fully experience middle school until the seventh grade.

Now I go to church at least once a week with my class, something I never did at my old school. I am able to participate in service activities for others. I’m also able to have deep discussions in religion class about my faith with others.

The most important Catholic lesson I have learned is the truth about why Jesus died on the cross and that He rose again to save us. I will take this lesson with me to high school, knowing enough about it to share it with others, and always defend my faith to anyone.

Reese Miller
I remember first coming back from quarantine and seeing all my friends’ faces under masks. Social distancing was an everyday fact of life.

Although the work may be difficult at times, I have learned skills that can help me to complete tasks with ease. Hanging out with friends and growing in my faith in middle school have been the highlights of the past three years. The teachings of my faith have reminded me of my identity in relationship to Jesus.

As a future high school student, I want to remind myself that God loves all people. I know now that God will provide the right people for me to surround myself with. In high school, there are many fake or toxic friends, but I can always trust in God. I have learned to make sure that I never exhaust myself chasing after a standard. I want to feel joy in God and not temporary pleasures.

Kendall Barry
My middle school experience at Nativity School was mind-blowing. A lot of things I thought would never happen happened, and a lot of things I thought would happen didn’t. In sixth grade, we were supposed to go to Catalina. But, because of COVID, we were not allowed to go. Instead, we had a week of a camp at our school, which was just as fun.

Middle school can throw a lot of curveballs at you that you always have to be ready for. A couple important Catholic school lessons I am bringing with me to high school are to always try to do your best and never give up.

Sacred Heart School (Coronado)

Bella Aguilar
I could describe the middle school experience in my Catholic school in so many ways but three of the most important things that stand out to me are amazing, faithful, and important.
Those three are the best ways to describe the experience I have had in the three years I have been at this school.
One of the many lessons that this Catholic school has taught me that I can bring into high school is to never give up on yourself or think that you can’t do something because everything is possible. By bringing this lesson into high school it will open so many doors for me in the future and lead me to amazing opportunities.
In high school I am mostly looking forward to making so many new friends and making wonderful, unforgettable memories with them. I am so excited to also make so many improvements in my education and academics. My last reason that I am excited is because I already know that I am I 00% prepared because of what the amazing lessons these teachers have taught me at this Catholic school. This school has given me so many great foundational values. I hope that when I go to high school, I continue to make everyone proud.

Victor Castan
My experience at my Catholic school has been a crazy one. It has had its ups and downs, however, overall, it has been a positive experience. I have grown a lot in many different ways, including in my faith, my athleticism, my mind, and my height.
The most important lessons I am taking to high school with me are to always trust God and to work hard for the things that I want. I learned from a young age that God is someone that I can always depend on, and Catholic school strengthened that belief. From a young age I also learned that working hard for the things I want is very important because if I am handed everything on a silver plate there is little to no room for improvement. Going to a Catholic school showed me that if I wanted to do well in something, such as a test, I had to work hard for it.
What I am most looking forward to in high school is making new friends and having fun learning new things. I think high school will be a great experience for me because I feel that it will nurture me with the skills I will need in my adult life.

Samantha Donoughe
My middle school experience at a Catholic school has affected me in so many positive ways. I have grown closer to God and my faith through faith and friendships. Since I’ve been at a Catholic school, I have seen aspects of my faith that I did not know.
A Catholic lesson that I have learned that I will be taking into high school is the Great Commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”  I believe that when I go to high school, and I end up going through a hard time I will turn to God. I know that when I get down on myself, I will know that God will always be there for me, and I will be able to turn to Him. When I go to high school, I am most looking forward to growing closer to God and my faith.

Zarah Enciso
My middle school experience at Sacred Heart has been an experience that in my opinion is amazing. From having lots of laughs, to learning about the Ecumenical Council, the last three years at Sacred Heart have been wonderful. Overall, my middle school experience has been a whirlwind. Why? I started sixth grade on Zoom because of Covid and when I came back, we had to sit six feet apart and wear masks. This did not bother me, but it was different and something I had to get used to. Thankfully, my school was one of the first to go back to in-person learning. I was very thankful for this and knew that my principal and teachers had done everything possible to make a safe and healthy environment for all of us.
Although we were not able to attend Mass every week, we watched it virtually and made the best out of it. During that time, we all tried to stay very optimistic and believe in God for what’s to come.
One of the Catholic school lessons I will be taking to high school is to treat others the way you want to be treated. A Catholic high school is an opportunity than I am very fortunate and grateful for being able to attend. Although I will miss Sacred Heart very much, I am excited to have a fresh start in a new and welcoming environment. I am looking forward to many things, which include making new friends, and learning new things. I believe that OLP will truly give me the high school experience that I am looking for. I am sure that God will lead me through every step of the way and will guide me when I stumble upon some troubling situations.

Valentina Johnston
I would describe my middle school experience as a bumpy, pothole filled road. Isn’t life like that though? What I mean is that I didn’t have a smooth transition into middle school. I entered school during the pandemic, and I went from a public school to a private one. In sixth grade, everyone had already formed their groups and I couldn’t seem to fit in any of them. Now that I’m in 8th grade, I feel more confident in myself, and I have found my group of friends. Sadly, they aren’t ideally in my class, but it’ll do.
Thanks to my experience in middle school, I learned that not everyone will immediately accept you and that you have to work out how to be friends with different people. I think and hope that the high school I’m going to will be so much more different and I’ll find people that like me for me. The real reason I’m going there is because of that. I look forward to making new friends and exploring my hobbies.

Victoria Hahn
My middle school experience at a Catholic school has changed my life in many ways.
The Masses, field trips, and over all just being in an environment with my friends, has allowed me to create so many memories that I will cherish forever. I have learned so much not only about academics but also about real life. Some important life lessons that I will take with me to high school are definitely about friendships. I have learned how to be a good friend and how to maintain friendships. I really love being able to come to school and be around people that I have built friendships with over the years; it is your friends who are with you throughout your journey. I have also learned how to live my life like a practicing Catholic. All of the faith related activities that I am involved in really helped me to grow closer to God. Some of the things that I am looking forward to in high school are meeting new people, playing in sports teams, and just the overall high school experience! I believe that I have been well prepared, and I am ready to start a new chapter of my life, high school.

Mia Langham
I like to think of my middle school experience as one that I will always hold onto. I’ll never forget all the friends I’ve made and all the memories I’ll forever remember. I feel that when you go to a Catholic school, you have this whole different experience that other kids will never have. I don’t think of my classmates as fellow students, but more as brothers and sisters. I’ve grown so close to them that it will be hard to leave them soon when we part ways to lead our own paths, in different high schools.
There are so many lessons I’ve learned here at Sacred Heart, but if I had to pick one, it would be that no matter if someone is different, it is so important to respect others and be kind. To me this means that if someone wears their hair differently, dresses differently, acts differently, or even is a different religion. It is important that all people know we all are equal. No matter what. When I go to high school, I think I’ll be most excited for all the memories and experiences the future is holding for me. I believe that it is important to do what makes you happy. And that is exactly what I will do!

José Manuel Prado
Sacred Heart School was a great choice for a middle school. Coming from a school in Mexico, everything I experienced in Sacred Heart was magical and wonderful. For starters, the school itself was very easy to get used to. The school, relatively small, really welcomed me. Second, the teachers and staff were great and every one of them helped me to grow as a person, and academically. Third, my fellow students were great, and they all took me in and helped me to have a great social life, inside and outside of school. The school really taught me many things, among them to respect teachers. The thing I’m looking forward to the most is how I will grow as a person in the future. I’m very excited for what the future has in store and I, for one, can’t wait to see how my life changes in high school.

Miranda Rosas
Overall, the middle school experience here at my Catholic school is very inclusive. The school does everything in its power to make sure everyone feels safe and included in the environment around them. Some of the most important Catholic lessons are respect, dignity, and faith. I will be sure to treat others with respect by being inclusive and courteous towards them, helping them out with their personal problems, and sharing my faith with them. I will treat the people around me with dignity by showing respect even when I don’t agree with them, being polite, treating them as being of worth, and by respecting their rights. I will treat others with faith by being kind, compassionate, and forgiving.
There are many things that I am looking forward to when I get to high school. For example, I am looking forward to taking new classes and trying new things that will impact me in a positive way. Another thing I’m excited for is learning new virtues in high school and learning new life skills to prepare me for the future. I’m also looking forward to making lifelong friends. I know that all throughout high school and the rest of my life that God will be with me every step of the way.

Camila Salas
I would describe the middle school experience at Sacred Heart as social because everyone in the whole middle school gets along, even sixth graders are friends with eight graders. I would also describe it as fun and religious because even though we do a lot of work and we are working super hard, we still have fun, it never feels like too; there is so much love in our community. We are like a big, happy family.
A lesson that I will be taking not only into high school but for my whole life is to treat others how you would like to be treated. Sacred Heart has taught me that you always have to treat people with respect and love even if they are not your favorite person, always treat them with respect.
What I am looking forward to in high school are my classes, my teachers and getting to know them but overall, I am looking forward to making connections with people and having friends that will still be my friends when I am older.

Maria De Santi
Being in a Catholic school is a great experience. Being in middle school, we are responsible for setting up and breaking down the choir supplies, teaching the younger students about the Mass, and growing deeper in understanding our faith. I have learned to love and grow through my parish and school. I trust and respect all of my friends and classmates. I have friends in different grades. I love working in groups, playing games, and being on sports teams together. However, the most important Catholic school lessons I am taking with me to high school are caring for others, understanding of faith, and good morals.

In high school, I am looking forward to meeting new people. I believe that it is important to have a good social network of friends and people I trust. I want to excel in everything I do, whether it be sports or academics.

Gianna de Vasconcellos
My middle school experience at Sacred Heart is something I will always treasure. I’ve been at this school since kindergarten. Every year at Sacred Heart has been full of religious services, school fundraisers and parties, sports and afterschool activities, and most importantly, friends that truly feel like family.
I get excited to come to school each day, knowing that my teachers will support me, my friends will encourage me, and I won’t be overwhelmed because of the learning strategies I have picked up throughout all my years here. One of my favorite things about Sacred Heart is the bonds I have with other students, even students in other grades. I know that once I graduate I’m going to miss high-fiving other classes while walking through the halls, having fun with friends from other grades, and being extremely close with my classmates.
There are many Catholic school lessons I gained at Sacred Heart that I hope to take with me to High School, including the good morals and values of our faith, ways to become closer to God, and how to follow the “Ten Commandments.” In high school, I look forward to using my skills to succeed while growing in my faith. It’s going to be extremely hard for me to leave Sacred Heart and move on to this new chapter of my life, but I am confident that my faith and the lessons I have learned will guide me through.

Catherine Warwick
I would describe my middle school experience at my Catholic school as faithful because I go to Mass every week during school. It is really nice because if we can’t go to Mass on the weekends, we are able to go with our class.
The most important Catholic school lessons that I am taking with me to high school are treating everyone one with respect, always being nice to other people, and working hard. My school has taught me to treat everyone with respect because when you treat everyone with respect, they will show you respect. I have learned that you always need to be nice to other people because you never know what someone is going through. That act of kindness could have made their day. My school has taught me that you always have to work hard for what you want. Nothing is ever given to you.
In high school I am looking forward to making new friends that I will know for the rest of my life. I have been going to the same school since I was in kindergarten. I love this school and I will forever be grateful for the time I spent here, but I am looking forward to the next part of my life in a new school.

Claudio Zuazo
I believe my middle school experience is very good. I have a very fun time at this school, every day making new friends and learning many things. Every day I learn something new that is interesting or exciting to me. Some of the most interesting Catholic school lessons that I will be taking to high school are learning how to cooperate with others well so that I can be a better student. I will more mature, able to deal with situations.
I am looking forward to meeting new people in high school. I’ very excited for all the new things I will learn, about not just academics but also about me, like what I want to do after I graduate and what sports I can try, such as football.
I would describe my middle school experience in my Catholic school as excellent and wonderful, because we all pay attention and are respectful to the Catholic Church and community. The most important Catholic school lessons I am taking with me into high school are “The Ten Commandments,” the Bible, and many more other writings.
The most important things I am looking forward to in high school are soccer, religion, social studies, art, and other sports. I would like to do soccer the most because I would like to play professionally.

Santa Sophia Academy

Blake Abo
I was not at a Catholic school for sixth grade; I was at a charter school and it was almost all online.  It was hard to learn over a screen.  Then gradually when it started to be less of a big deal, toward the end, we went back in-person.  We had a lot to catch up on because everyone was confused about what happened. In seventh grade I transferred to a Catholic school and didn’t have to worry about going online unless I was sick,  I have been able to learn a lot more since teaching got to be back in-person.  I have felt this way throughout eighth grade, as well.

The most important Catholic school lesson that I am taking into high school is to love everyone like you love God.  I have also learned how to talk to people I don’t really know, so I will use this to make some friends in high school.  We were taught to be kind and speak what you believe.  We have to respect everyone. I’m sure I will learn even more at the next Catholic school I’m going to.

In high school I am most looking forward to meeting new people and thriving at the school.  I want to have a good time and make many good memories.  I am also looking forward to improving my faith with God because I’m going to a  Catholic school.  My main goal is to succeed and get into a good college.

Nicholas Asker
Sixth grade was not the best learning experience. Most of the time, we were on the computer. When you’re at home in pajamas, it’s not easy to focus. When we finally got to go in-person in seventh grade, it was amazing. It was way easier to learn in the classroom than online. And now my final year in middle school is eighth grade. I was very happy that the virus died down and we were able to have a normal year.

One of the important lessons I’m taking with me throughout my nine years of Catholic education is to be good to your neighbor. If you’re nice to everyone, you will make great friends that will last a lifetime. Another thing I’m taking into high school is to believe in God and trust His plan and whatever happens was meant to happen.

Isaiah Castro
I liked my middle school experience at my school because (initially) we were at home. The problem with being at home was that I didn’t learn as much as I could have in an actual school. I liked transitioning into 7th grade because it was in person, and we could have PE.

A lesson I’m taking into high school is JOY. The reason I chose JOY is because I find it to be a good idea to follow Jesus first, others next, yourself last.

I’m looking forward to a new environment in high school. I have spent my whole life in a private Catholic school, and it is exciting to be going to Steele Canyon.

Paola Delgado
My sixth-grade experience online was good. I didn’t learn as much online as I did in seventh and eighth grade, when we were back in school. Although learning online seems more fun because you’re at home, I like being in school because I don’t get distracted and pay more attention.

The most important Catholic school lessons I’m taking with me to high school are not to get tempted by people doing stuff we shouldn’t be and to not forget about God.  Even though I’m not going to Catholic high school, I won’t forget about God, and if I feel I’m drifting away from God I can go to Mass and pray more.

I am looking forward to all the fun high school stuff, like football games, sports, and homecoming, clubs, new and more friends.

Christopher Garmo
My sixth-grade experience was sometimes a lot harder and a lot easier while online. It was harder because we didn’t know how to fully use Zoom and apps like that. But it was also easy because the work they gave us was easier to do online instead of on paper.

Some important lessons Catholic School has taught me are to love your neighbor as yourself and to put Jesus first, others next, then myself last.

I am looking forward to meeting new people in high school and moving forward with my life; to be challenged on my skills and capabilities.

Solana Hiatt
When I was in sixth grade there were a lot of precautions because of Covid, for example, we had to wear a mask, wash hands very frequently, all the desks were separated, and all the desks had a plastic shield that would crack often.

For the times when we were online learning because someone got Covid, it was hard to focus on schoolwork, and many people forgot to turn in the assignments online since it was new to us.

In seventh grade, we were in-person learning but if a student got Covid they would have to go on to Zoom. In the beginning of the year, we had to wear masks and our desks were still separated, but later on we were allowed to take off our masks. The learning experience was better than online because we were in-person and there were hardly any distractions. Now that I’m in eighth grade, most of the precautions are lifted and the learning and the experience have almost returned to the way it was before Covid.

The most important Catholic school lessons that I will be taking with me to high school are to treat everyone the way I would want to be treated, and to treat people with kindness and the utmost respect.

What I am most looking forward to in high school is being in classes with more than 20 students, as well as having a wider variety of sports, lockers, and the high school experience that a lot of adults remember.

Natalie Manglona
My sixth-grade experience had some hard parts, but my teachers helped me a lot through Zoom. Sometimes, when it got hard, we could take small breaks to help us focus again, and we were given videos and presentations, just like we would have in school. We used the same materials and learned the same concepts. We were not online all year, we got to come back in person! And that was really helpful not just for learning, but also having interactions with people.

In Catholic school, I have been taught to love Jesus so much and to put Him first in my life. So, I am going to keep that knowledge with me and keep Jesus as a focus during high school.

I am mostly looking forward to expanding my friendships and getting to meet new people. I have been at Catholic middle and elementary school all my life, and I am ready to move on to a bigger school. I am excited to have all kinds of different interactions with many new people.

Giavanna Meram
I have been at Santa Sophia Academy for two and a half years, and it has been the most memorable time of my life. I had to move from Michigan to California on Dec. 26, 2020. It was one of the most challenging things I have ever done because I was moving across the country during COVID-19 and everyone was on Zoom. It was very hard for me because I like being in-person and getting taught in school, not on a computer.

The most important lessons that a Catholic school taught me are that, even though I will no longer be attending a Catholic school, I will not turn away from God in any way and will stay close to Him in high school. I am also taking the lesson to not change yourself if someone doesn’t like how you look, because God created you like this, and you should not change anything about yourself because you are beautiful not only on the inside but also on the outside.

Cleopatra Molina
In sixth and seventh grades I was online, which limited a lot of the educational experience. As I got into Catholic school (seventh grade), we went over a few subjects that I learned in prior years, but we still continued with the curriculum. Teachers helped a lot if I was confused and am very thankful for that.

The most important skills I’m taking with me are my communication and leadership skills. Being an 8th grader at a Catholic school has taught me leadership skills since we are the school’s role models for the younger generation.

My middle school is very small; I’m looking forward to expanding my friend circle to include more people in high school. I’m also excited for the electives that we get to choose in high school.

Isabella Negrete
Middle school experience at a Catholic school is something I value a lot about. I was very fortunate to attend school in person when there were kids stuck at home using Zoom. Even though we would have to go on Zoom sometimes we would always come back to in-person. I feel prepared to go to high school because of how much I was taught, even during the hard years of Covid.

The most important Catholic lesson I am taking with me to high school is to have a lot of faith and trust in God. Attending a Catholic middle school has taught me to let God take care of me and to always have trust in him.

Going to high school, I am looking forward to continuing my education with God.  I am attending a Catholic high school, where I can expand my knowledge about God. Also, I am looking forward to making new connections with different people in a new environment.

Ashlin Pais
I’ve only been at a Catholic school for two years (seventh and eighth grade), but I can say that it is definitely different from any other school I’ve ever attended. I’ve learned a lot here and made a lot of memories.

Some lessons I’ll be taking with me to high school are that it’s never too late to rekindle your love for God and that you don’t have to know your calling because God has a plan for you. He will take care of you, so don’t worry about the future. I am looking forward to seeing my friends, learning new things, and meeting new people in high school. I am excited to take electives and new classes that were not available to me before. I am looking forward to going to many different classes and having more opportunities to learn.

Mateo Parra
I think the experience I had in Catholic middle school was pretty good. I spent a lot of time in sixth grade on Zoom. The online learning didn’t really give me much, while the shift back into in-person learning in seventh grade gave me more of an opportunity to learn. The time I’ve spent at the school overall was quite great, and I would say that it has been quite influential in my morals and everyday life.

The most important Catholic school lessons I will take with me are those that have influenced my thinking and learning, especially the “Ten Commandments,” (which helps me have)  a strong connection with God, as well as to have success in life. Another important lesson I will take is that God loves and accepts all people, and therefore I should as well, by attempting to befriend all people I can. Another thing I am looking forward to is the project-based system of the school I am going to attend, High Tech High School.

Landon Salem
From my three years at Santa Sophia Academy, my best learning experience was that we need to keep God as our number-one priority. He gives us guidance for our future and why we should listen to His word. God loves us and, for us to be successful in high school, we have to strive to follow His word.

In high school, I’m looking forward to freedom. In middle school, I felt like a little kid. Like people say, “You are who you surround yourself with.” If I’m surrounded by little kids, I start to feel like one. In high school, my brother always tells me how much freedom he has and I get shocked. For the past three years, I’ve been in this small bubble and I can’t wait to see what high school will bring to my life.

Brandon Salmu
The middle school experience at a Catholic school was good. We were able to be in-person when other schools were learning online. Sixth grade I was at public school, and it was really bad since we were online. But seventh and eighth grades, when we were in person, it made a big difference in my learning and ability to see my friends.

The most important lessons I am taking with me to high school are that God is always in control and everything happens for a reason. High school is going to be a challenge and I will put in the most effort possible.

In high school, I am looking forward to getting good grades and eventually applying to colleges. I think high school will be the best time during our school years.

Shelby Taylor
My sixth grade  had so many unexpected turns and twists. I’m really happy that our school allowed us to come into school and us to see each other. Our school kept us engaged and focused during a hard time. There were a lot of non-Covid related changes at my school that happened at the same time. I actually feel this gave me an advantage because I got used to everything at the same time as Covid, so it all became my new normal. Now, in eighth grade, our school is trying to re-introduce old traditions. They don’t feel the same,  but it doesn’t bother me much. Changes are going to occur no matter what, and I’m very flexible, so the changes usually end up benefiting me.

Learning to have full trust in God is, in my opinion, the most important lesson I’m taking with me. I wasn’t actually taught this actively but going through Catholic school has really taught me to just let God guide me. I’m very spontaneous but even changing my whole life caught me really off guard. God guided me through the pandemic, and I really wouldn’t have been able to maintain focus and keep my grades up if it wasn’t for my faith in God.

I am looking forward to meeting new people and having more opportunities in high school. There is more freedom there. I have known the same people my whole life and I’m actually a bit nervous to meet new people but I’m excited, nonetheless. There are more clubs in high school that I could be a part of and there are more sports also.

Alana Yalda
It definitely makes a difference when you learn in person versus learning online. I was able to learn in person in 6th grade while public schools weren’t able to, so that’s one reason why I’m thankful to be in a Catholic school. I’m really enjoying my last years of middle school at a Catholic school.

I’ve learned many lessons on how to be respectful, and to love your neighbor as yourself. I have also been taught to be very respectful towards others, so I will carry these lessons with me all my life.

I’m looking forward to being in a new environment and adapting to all of my new classes in high school. I’m really excited for all the classes I will be taking and to meet my new teachers as well as new students.

School of the Madeleine

Nicolas Bardaro
I had a good experience at my Catholic school. After an unusual year learning online in sixth grade, it was a relief when we finally got to come back in person. The teachers put forth an incredible amount of effort into making the rest of our junior high years as normal as possible, even in the aftermath of Covid. I learned so much, from my faith, to science, to English and more. It was exciting being able to experience junior high with the classmates I grew up with, and when I move on to high school, I will definitely look back at the memories I made here.

The most important Catholic school lessons that I will carry with me throughout high school and the rest of my life are to have faith in God and to do my best in everything. The religion classes at my school have taught me that when things go wrong it is easy to blame God and ask why certain things happen. But the important thing to know is that God has a plan, he has a vision for each and every one of us, and our experiences will shape us into the people we need to become in order to complete that plan. Hard work and taking ownership of my work are qualities that will serve me well in high school and beyond, and they too have been instilled in me by my Catholic school experience .

In high school I am most looking forward to using all of the knowledge I have accumulated over the years to find my path in the world. Meeting new people, learning new things, and getting to experience different environments, are all priorities, as well. I am looking forward to being able to see the world from another point of view. High school will be a place where I can find my calling, and elaborate on subjects I am passionate about.

 Zen Catre
My middle school experience was definitely filled with memories. Learning during COVID in sixth grade was a challenge, especially because I had limited interaction with my peers. Seventh and eighth grade completely made up for that, though. Seventh grade was a complete shift from sixth grade. We went from masks, online learning, and social distancing to how life was pre-COVID. Seventh grade was a blast, and I’m so happy I got to experience talking to my friends and being taught by my wonderful teachers without plexiglass between us. I made so many wonderful memories and friendships in middle school, and I hope upcoming middle schoolers will experience what I did.

I learned many important lessons in Catholic school. Two of the most important ones I’m taking into high school are leading respectfully and learning responsibly. Standing up for the right thing and taking responsibility for your actions is leading respectfully, which I value so much. Learning responsibly is expressing your ideas clearly and setting personal goals for yourself. Catholic school made me value my education while respecting others.

I’m looking forward to meeting new people and exploring new opportunities as I enter high school. Having grown up with the same peers for six years, I will undoubtedly miss them, but I think it’s time for me to move on.

Brooklyn Chouinard
In sixth grade, I attended online school. It felt like it was me against the world. Fortunately, I had my family with me the entire time, so somehow we survived. The next year, I was able to return to school. Instead of returning to my old school, we decided it would be best to move back to my parents’ hometown to be near family. So alas, my fate was decided. I would attend the parish school I was baptized in. Fortunately, I attended a Catholic school before Covid, so I wasn’t that lost socially. Outsiders are shunned, so I tried to stay under the radar. Seventh grade was to summarize in one word, difficult. Now don’t be fooled, I had friends, but I missed my home. A part of me missed online school. Not having to try socially, and just be accepted. Now that I look back on that online school year, I realize it was as difficult as seventh grade. As I sit here today, I can only realize one thing; my middle experience was brown. A mix of colors or in my case emotions, that form said color.

The most important lesson I learned in Catholic school was how to be compassionate. How to care for other people and put their needs above your own. This is one lesson I will take with me to the grave. I have also learned how to be faithful. Faithful to not only God but to people in general. Both of these lessons have given me the necessary tools on how to be a positive member in society.

To be completely honest, I am looking forward to having a fresh start. Everyone starts off on equal footing, and you don’t have to catch up because it is everyone’s first year. I crave the new friends that are yet to be made. I dream about the lessons to be learned. But most importantly, I hope to have a voice.

Jake Millard
During my time in middle school at School of the Madeleine, I experienced a variety of different situations that helped me grow and develop as a person. My sixth grade year was marked by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which meant that we had to switch to distance learning. This was challenging at first, but I was able to adapt and still learn and have fun with my classmates. In seventh grade, I made lots of new friends and learned a lot both academically and spiritually. I also grew in my faith and felt a deeper connection to God. Finally, in eighth grade, I felt well-prepared for high school and felt like my school had given me a strong foundation for the next chapter of my academic journey. Overall, my experience at the School of the Madeleine was positive and helped me grow in many different ways.

Attending a Catholic school has been an enriching experience that has taught me valuable lessons that I will carry with me into high school. One of the most significant lessons that I have learned is the importance of service and compassion towards others. My education has also instilled in me strong values and ethics, such as honesty, respect, and responsibility. These values are integrated into every aspect of my education, from interactions with my peers to my academic coursework. As I prepare for high school, I am grateful for the variety of things that I have acquired through my Catholic school education, and I look forward to putting them into practice in the years to come.

I am going to be starting high school next fall and I am looking forward to continuing my Catholic education as well as to new academic, extracurricular, and spiritual opportunities. I am most excited about taking the intro to STEAM class at my new high school, given my interest in science, technology, engineering, art, and math. I’m also eager to challenge myself with the many honors courses offered, which will prepare me for college and beyond. I am also looking forward to trying out for the basketball and soccer teams to develop my skills further in those sports. I’m looking forward to a fulfilling and enriching high school experience overall.

Luke Millard
My time in middle school was a unique experience that encompassed personal growth, academic development, and spiritual enrichment. In my sixth grade, I was faced with the challenge of transitioning to online learning due to the pandemic. Although I initially had reservations about this change, I soon found myself enjoying the benefits of spending more time with my family and the flexibility of online learning. Despite the challenges in the pandemic, my seventh grade was one of my favorites. I felt that I had grown socially and academically. Finally, my eighth grade has turned out to be a very remarkable experience. With the support of my friends and teachers, I have had an amazing final year at School of the Madeleine.

My years at Catholic grade school have been a rewarding experience where I have learned about my faith. I have developed a strong spiritual devotion and go to Mass every Sunday. I also say the rosary every night, as I have grown in my relationship with God. I have learned many strong values such as respect, compassion, and responsibility. Probably the most important things I will take into high school are hard work pays off and to never stop trying.

I have chosen to go to Cathedral Catholic High School because they have a strong engineering program, which I look forward to a lot. I am happy to continue my religious education. They also provide challenging honors classes I am excited to participate in. In my current school I am in advanced math so I cannot wait to go into geometry next school year at Cathedral. I have many goals in my life and going to an amazing high school is the first step.

Esmeralda Terrell
I would describe my middle school experience at my Catholic school as unique. I say unique because in Catholic school, you get more stability when it comes to education and teachers not leaving the school. When I was  learning online, it most definitely was a challenge. Being at home with tons of distractions broke my concentration between assignments. This made learning much harder.

The most important Catholic school lessons I will be taking with me into high school are to always respect people no matter what, to love my neighbor as God has loved me, and to never slack off on my Catholic values.

What I am most looking forward to in high school is being able to positively build on my character and being able to make new friends. I am also excited to have a fresh start when it comes to going into a school that will have a new environment.

Charlotte Wickstrand
My middle school experience was a lot better in seventh and eight than in sixth. It was a tough time for everyone, and for the circumstances, I think my school adapted well. But, wearing masks, social distancing, and hybrid learning can’t compare to getting to have fun and be with my friends during my last two years of grade school. I had a great time in junior high, eighth grade especially, because it was good to have normality again.

I have learned how important it is to try hard in school. By using the tools I have learned in the classroom, I am excited to head to high school feeling prepared. I have also learned social skills, like how to meet new people and be friendly to everyone. Going into a situation like high school, where there are so many people I don’t know, I will definitely be using these skills. I value the lessons I have learned in grade school because they have helped prepare me to succeed in a high school setting.

 I am looking forward to meeting new people. Although there are benefits to having a class of 60 people, I am definitely excited to make new friends. I also look forward to being challenged academically. Catholic school has prepared me for a tough curriculum next year, which I am grateful for. I am so excited to play high school volleyball with my friends. I have a lot of fun playing volleyball, and playing for your school is a whole different experience that I look forward to.

St. Charles School

Franchesska Antonio
I wasn’t in a Catholic school for my sixth grade; this is actually my first year in a Catholic school. But to describe my experience in a public school, it was very different and I somewhat didn’t like having to be online. The experience at St. Charles, so far, is actually very fun for me. I enjoy the many people in the school and the staff really care about their students. At least I feel they care about me. It’s a very happy environment and everyone is always trying to bring you up. The school is like a family.

School is very important but there are times you need a break and I feel the best way to take that break is to reflect on your actions. I now know the prayer “Daily Examen” and I will carry this prayer throughout high school.

I want to be more open to things and I feel that high school is a great opportunity for that.

Isabella Astiazarán 
My middle school experience at St. Charles has been amazing. There has been both good and not so great stuff, which included online learning. We were online in the beginning of our sixth grade. I missed my friends greatly and I would often find myself losing focus and just not enjoying it. Being an only child didn’t make it any better.  Once we were able to go back in-person, I was so much happier because I was able to learn better and see all my friends. Way more memories were and are being made when we are at school. We also have lots more activities.

There are many great things I’ve learned in a Catholic school. One of the most important things that I’ve learned going into high school is that God is always with me. The transition from a school of around 130 people to a school over 1,000 can be really hard, especially when you have to make new friends. So, when I find it hard transitioning and finding friends I need to remember that God is always here with me and I need to trust in Him.

High school has many things to look forward to. One of the things that I’m most looking forward to is seeing all the people that I used to go to school with that will be at my new school. There are also many new friends to meet and activities to participate in that will make it a super time.

Franchezka Gonzales Bacani
Throughout my middle school experience at St. Charles Catholic School, I have grown in numerous ways. I have grown spiritually, in my academic performance, and overall as a person. The teachers at St. Charles have helped me become closer to God, learn more about my faith, and have challenged me to improve my academic performance.

Although virtual learning during the pandemic was extremely difficult, my teacher did her best and was able to efficiently teach us what we needed to know before sixth grade. Virtual learning limited my ability to interact with my teachers and classmates, and with frequent WiFi disconnections and laggy Zoom meetings, there were days where I wasn’t able to learn. However, starting in sixth grade, we were able to go to school in person. This was significantly better than virtual learning. Not only was I able to interact with and ask my teachers questions and efficiently learn the different subjects, but I was also able to socialize again with my classmates and join sports. In addition, in-person learning is significantly more effective and enjoyable than online learning.

A part of St. Charles School’s mission is to educate and develop students in an environment where they can thrive and grow in their faith and academic performance. Something I’ve learned from my Catholic school lessons and my eighth-grade retreat that I will take with me into not only high school but the rest of my life is that God is always with me and is always there to guide me into His light and love. I’ve also grown to be more compassionate and understanding of others. Additionally, I’ve learned how to be a better writer and a student who can manage their time well.

I know high school will be significantly different from middle school. However, I’m excited for the new experiences and the new environment. I hope to learn many new things, meet new people, and explore and try new things.

Annika Mei Celis
Middle school is always tough for students all around the world. I struggled making the transition from elementary school as things got more complicated. In addition, we were in quarantine, so attending school was a completely new feeling. Although things may have been getting more difficult, the bond our class had was able to get me through the hard times and even strengthen me in the process. I really feel as though our class is more than just classmates, we are family.

Several lessons I learned at St. Charles have greatly impacted my life in a variety of positive ways. Over the past couple of years, some of the most important lessons are to love and accept myself, along with others. Through these, I have gained confidence and many new friends. One thing that I believe will stick with me is the phrase “this too shall pass.” That simple phrase is only one of many things learned that I use often. This lesson in particular has helped me manage stress while reminding me to appreciate every moment.

I am looking forward to a handful of things in high school. Something I am anticipating is new experiences. Everyone will have a fresh start in a new environment, new classmates and new routines. With these new events comes education. I am looking forward to advancing and continuing to grow in my faith and mentally.

Sofia Covarrubias
Since I was not at St. Charles in sixth or seventh grade, I compare them to my experiences in eighth grade. During sixth grade due to Covid-19, we had to join online classes. When the students did not want to turn their camera on they were not given an option to leave it off. In seventh grade things began to get worse with my relationship with my friends and classmates. I decided to leave at the end of the year and attend St. Charles. This school is definitely more disciplined, and it helped me prepare for high school.

Throughout the year I have been at St. Charles, I learned to not worry about the future and who I will become.

I have been looking forward to high school since I was a child. I watched my sisters play parts in “Spring Sing” at Academy of Our Lady of Peace, and now I will be doing the same this year. I am very excited to have varieties of clubs to choose from. I am interested are in music and art because there are many skills I can learn in those classes. Overall, I was very lucky to be able to get into St. Charles and be able to start a new journey at OLP.

Sebastian Cruz
High school is a really special time for students because it’s a chance to try new things, like clubs or sports. Making new friends is important in high school because it helps you feel like you’re part of a group. Joining clubs is great because you can meet people who like the same things as you and learn new skills. Playing sports is fun and it can help you feel good about yourself. Going to school events, like dances or talent shows, is exciting too. In high school, you can also take classes that are harder and more challenging to get ready for college or a job. High school is a chance to grow and find out what you really love to do.

During my years at St. Charles, I have learned many things and had many changes.

The main difference between sixth, seventh and eighth grades has to be distance learning. Distance learning was an experience that I didn’t really enjoy. It was so boring at home, I missed my friends. In late sixth grade we came back to school and it was an adjustment but made me appreciate school more.

Catholic school has taught me to be grateful for all of the amazing opportunities I have. My Catholic education has helped me to be the best version of myself. Through my years I have explored what makes me passionate and motivated, and, of course, expand my knowledge. But I have to say the main reasons I love my Catholic education so much is because I have come to know God.

There are going to be many challenges and changes throughout my high school life but I know I can handle them with my strong moral actions. One of the things I am most excited is getting to know new people in a bigger environment. There are so many different ways to touch people’s lives through my actions. I’m mostly excited to have a fresh start and be the best person I can be.

Diego Herrera
There are many ways I can describe my journey through middle school at St. Charles. First, in sixth grade Covid was still contagious. Many people had the option to stay home or go to school with a mask. I chose to go to school because during the time that we had to stay home it was difficult for me since I couldn’t see my friends on a daily basis. Covid made me appreciate school more because it made me realize how important it is to be able to interact with other people and not be locked up in your house all of the time. I actually missed my teachers, my friends, and being at school. Seventh and eighth grades have been so much better but I have to say that eighth grade has been the most fun. During eighth grade we were able to go on our retreat, to the Museum of Tolerance, and do all the activities that eight-graders normally did before covid. My favorite experience has been the eighth-grade retreat because we were able to go away from home and to focus more on God’s creation and how we can grow closer to Him.  We got to play in the snow and do many more fun activities with my friends and teachers.

One of the most important Catholic school lessons that I will be taking with me to high school is to always be accepting of others despite our differences, to always choose the right path and make positive choices, to be kind and respectful to others, and most importantly, to always pray and trust in God. A phrase that my eighth-grade teacher taught us is, “This Too Shall Pass,” which means that everything that has a beginning will have an end and nothing is permanent, so we must always make the best of every experience.

One thing I will be looking forward to in high school is making new friends, playing new sports, having seven different teachers, having better food to eat, and going to all the high school events.

Roger Hornecker 
Sixth grade was my first year in St. Charles. For the first few months school was all online and to me it was boring and hard to learn. In the second half, we started doing in-person learning. This was a lot easier, and I got more help from teachers then when I was online. Another thing that changed from being online was math. When I was online, I wasn’t understanding all the math we were doing because we weren’t doing it on a whiteboard with the teacher or we couldn’t see the whiteboard well. When the second half started, we were in-person and doing math more normally and it was just better.

Even though I know high school will be hard, I’m excited about it. There will be so many new things to try and people to meet. I will be able to explore my interests in classes and clubs, and make new friends with teachers and other students. High school will be challenging, but I’m ready to learn and grow. Overall, I think high school will help me prepare for my future and I’m looking forward to all the experiences these years will bring.

Emiliano Márquez
High school will be a big change for me. Although I’m going to a new level, and will be making new friends, and trying new things, I’m excited for my new classes. I will learn new things, including engineering and geometry. I would love to do new things and invent.

I’m excited for extracurricular activities, including sports and clubs. I’m excited for games and fun days. Also, for the freedom I will have, still under the teachers’ supervision.

I’m excited for the opportunities I will get, like taking college courses and participating in  football and basketball tryouts, and school events I can attend, such as homecoming, spring sports rally, Halloween dances, Christmas parties and more.

I’m especially excited to continue my education and religion at a Catholic high school, meeting a new pastor and priest and receiving the Holy Bread. I would like to continue being Catholic and help everyone I can, in any way possible.

I’m taking with me the words of my eighth-grade teacher, “This too shall pass.” It doesn’t matter whether you did something good or bad, or are hated. This too shall pass and for the better, because in the end, it will always be good.

Avery Sterling 
During quarantine my middle school experience was like no other. At first I thought I was really getting the bigger advantage with being at home and all but boy was I wrong. In the beginning we were told that it would only be two weeks that we would be out, but somehow two weeks turned into months, which somehow turned into a year. It was hard being away from school, learning on a computer and not being able to focus. I’m a pretty smart kid and that year in sixth grade I just didn’t really try. This was because I didn’t feel the need to, I got lazy from being at home all the time. If we weren’t online and it was just a regular year, and I got those same grades, I would have been held back.

Being a critical thinker is a skill that will help me all through life. I think that it’s important to be able to have a critical, creative mindset that will help me think outside of the box. In high school there are going to be a lot of problems that need solving, not just the ones the teachers give you but also real-life problems. If the first way does not end up working, you can’t just give up, you need to either find another way or make another way.

I’ve been in the same school for nine years in counting, so I’m nervous about moving schools. I understand that high school is going to be a totally different chapter in my life, and although I’m scared, I’m excited. I’m excited to make new friends and build relationships that will last a lifetime. I’m excited for new classes and sports teams. But what I think I’m most excited about is new experiences.

Isabella Skye Vargas
My experience in this school has been everything I could have asked for. Being in a Catholic school for my entire education, I have learned so many things. I know what it means to have good bonds with people and how to resolve conflict easily. In the beginning of sixth grade we had to do online school due to the pandemic; it was very hard but the teachers helped us find comfort and safety in our own homes. Still being able to learn and thrive in all of my classes was something I will forever be grateful for. Being able to come back to my classmates and on campus in the seventh grade allowed me to have the feeling of home and family again, it brought back so many memories. This had a huge impact on my middle school years.

The ultimate lesson I learned in my middle school years is how to trust in God. I struggled with this so much in sixth grade. Having to trust in God to be able to come back to school and for the health of all of my classmates and people around the world. Ultimately, I felt ignored and unheard by God. I thought as though it was punishment but I realize now God will never punish you and He has a plan. He knows what He is doing and how it will positively influence us. For example, having the inability to trust in God’s plan led me to stress about my high school choice. Mater Dei Catholic High School has been my dream school for as long as I can remember, unfortunately the cost is so high and I wasn’t sure if I should make the sacrifice for my family. I realized, with the help of my teacher and my parents, to let go and to be at peace with whatever God decided for me. I knew He would put me where I belonged, and do the best for me. This lesson is the one I will forever take with me in continuing my Catholic education throughout high school.

Aiden Villagomez
Since the pandemic, I had to go to online school, which negatively impacted my life, both for my physical and mental health. My parents saw this and decided to move me to St. Charles School in sixth grade, which at first I didn’t really like. It had been a long time since I was able to go to school in person. I couldn’t really introduce myself to other people due to still having to socially distance. But it did help me learn better than me being in online school, which is a pretty good start. Later on, in seventh and eighth grades, (my school experience) improved drastically. I was able to socialize with others more often and make new friends, who have been very wonderful to me. I was able to pay attention due to not having to be in online classes, which at the time was a big struggle for me. I was already seeing my life change in this school.

My improvement in social skills and learning can help me in high school. Those two things, in my opinion, are very essential for high school and even life. You need to be able to know how to interact with others and be able to be open to learning new things.

Also, learning more about my faith really helped me to be more forgiving, helpful, understanding, and grateful. In general, being at St. Charles gave me a new perspective in life and changed me as a person.

I’m going to Cristo Rey High School, which helps students get the best work experience to prepare them for life. With work experience, it will teach me responsibilities and give me a better understanding of having a job/career. I am interested in this concept just for it being very different from a typical private school, where you just sit there and learn. I’m hoping for the best in this new chapter of my life and looking forward to high school.

Aldo 
The experience that I had in middle school at St. Charles was amazing, even during the online time because even though we didn’t really spend time in school we were still able to do activities. In addition, in seventh and eighth grades, were better because we were able to sit next to each other and it was very fun.

The most important lessons I’m taking from St. Charles to high school would be poetry because it’s going to help me through a lot of assignments in high school. In addition, another lesson that might also help a lot would be to respect and serve others because it shows love and caring for them.

The thing that I am mostly looking forward to in high school is to make great friends, to  play sports, and to create memories. I am really looking forward to the education that Mater Dei Catholic High school will provide me.

Cynthia
I would describe my sixth-grade experience at St. Charles as quick. I don’t remember quite much of what I did there besides some minor stuff like projects and assignments. I do remember we were in school in sixth grade but we still had to wear masks and practice social distancing. It was an odd time to be in since we were just in distance learning and had to follow these odd rules but I managed to get by and pass and went on to seventh and eighth grades. It was much different; we got to choose if we wanted to wear masks or not and the rules became more lenient. I remember more of what I did and I have a more fun time. I can apply that still to eighth grade, we did more activities, field trips and so much more.

I will take with me valuable lessons about teamwork, love, leadership, and time management. Those skills will be very valuable in high school.  I will also take my best subjects, vocabulary and English.

I am very excited to go to high school because of the fact that I can restart my life. Really nobody there is going to be friends with each other, so that leaves me the opportunity to develop new friendships.  I am also looking forward to all the clubs and activities that will be presented to me. And I hope high school will be the place where I can truly grow in my education and thrive from it.

But I’m also fearful because of what can happen, too. I will be on my own with nobody really going with me from middle school; and it can be very different from what it presents itself to me. Math and science will be more difficult. I worry about that. But I know that I can do this.

Jodie
In sixth grade I was at a public school and learned online.  (Now I’m at St. Charles and learning in-person.) It feels less tiring to be at school than to be at home, doing nothing.

The most important Catholic school lesson that I will take with me to high school is to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” As someone who wants to be treated like everyone else, I would definitely want to treat others the same. I do not care their race, size, ideas or looks. Everyone should be treated the same and loved equally.

Making new friends is definitely something I am looking forward to in high school. Friends and people around you can affect who you will be in the future. If you hang out with the right people, you will be successful in social and work life. Hopefully, that will be me. The school I am going to is a place that none of my friends are going to, so I may have to start all over again. Eventually, I will find my new friends.

Sydney
In general, middle school is a new experience for everyone. For me, not only was I attending a new school, but this was my first time at a Catholic school. Not only this, but it was my first time at an in-person school since before 2020. My experience for the seventh and eighth grades was very different, to say the least, but in a good way. The school was very welcoming; I made many friends and met various teachers and staff. I had the opportunity to grow in my faith, something I hadn’t practiced before, and also came out of my shell. In comparison to my sixth grade, this was a tremendous amount of growth and even healing.

I have learned many things during my time at a Catholic school. However, I think the most important lesson I have learned is that God will always be with you. This is something that I did not truly believe before attending Catholic school, because I always questioned if He really was there. As I have gotten older and learned to rely on God more, I am able to have trust in Him, as well as His presence in my life.

I think that there are many things to look forward to when making the transition from middle school to high school. For myself, I most look forward to meeting new people. Growing up, I was never very outgoing. However, now that I’m older, I enjoy meeting people and learning about them.

St. Katharine Drexel Academy

Nick Carrillo
My experience at a Catholic school has been very different compared to my 6th and 7th grade years at a non-Catholic school. I feel I have been able to connect myself more as a Catholic person and it has been very exciting.
The biggest Catholic school lesson that I am taking with me would probably be to trust myself and to trust God, know that He will guide you / us to the right way, and never do us harm.
The thing that I am most excited about in high school is meeting new friends, going to a big high school, and sports.

Rene Cordero
When I was in online learning, it was one of the most annoying things I had to go through. From March 13, 2020, all the way to April 2021, was the longest year of my life. Waking up every day to use my computer and listen and talk to people through a screen, in my head I was begging for this madness to end.
When school started again, half the students remained online in my seventh grade. Eighth grade started is my favorite school year yet.
I came to St. Katharine Drexel Academy (during middle school). It is a smaller school, something I was not used to, but over time I adapted.
For high school, I am not ready for a big community again; I loved being a part of a small community and getting to know each and every student.
Catholic school taught me that God is still always with you. Even though He is always with you, I never came to realize that he really is always with me. Catholic school has also taught me that you can be friends with anyone even if they are really different from you. I’ve learned this because of the small school community.

Christian Lukas
In this world, we are all called to do something; whether it be a vocation from God, or just a simple direction, we are called for a reason. Whatever that call may be for, strive to achieve it. It may just bring you the happiness you desire.
I am looking forward to a fresh start. New friends, and a new school. I’ll be ready for the challenge of life. Cathedral’s education and STEAM programs are definitely things I look forward to, but it will be nice to breathe in some new air.

Dario Montoy
My sixth-grade experience was hard for me because (we were on-line) and I didn’t have my friends and teachers there with me. When we got back, it was nice to be back at school and see my friends more often. In eighth grade, though, I started to realize high school is going to be like sixth grade in the sense that the teachers won’t be there with you like they are in middle school.
The thing I am most looking forward to in high school are new friendships, experiences, sports, and teachers.

Angel Nguyen
My middle school experience in a Catholic school was much more “close” because I mostly stuck with the same, small group of people every year. I definitely felt more comfortable and outgoing around them.
However, it was very different during half of fifth grade and part of sixth grade since a lot of it was spent online because of COVID-19. I wasn’t close to the class as I am now and before the pandemic because of how out-of-the-blue it was, and communication plans weren’t really set up.
It was also very, very hard for me to stay focused and keep up my grades during 5th grade online learning because the system wasn’t really set up, but once we got to the 6th grade online learning, it was much easier.
I definitely do feel like the 7th and 8th grades were when I got the best grades because I was supervised, got direct help, and just felt more normal.
One Catholic school lesson that I will take with me to high school is to remember to try and make friends because at a private school, the student body is pretty small compared to a public school. Everyone is close with one another but at a public school, you won’t be as close to everyone so it’s good to make friends with other students.
One thing that I am most looking forward to when I get to high school is the larger campus because there will be more places to hangout/study when there is free time. Another are the school events (prom, homecoming, sports games, etc.).Lastly, I am looking forward to the new classes because we will be learning different things and with the additional electives classes, I would be able to choose some of the stuff I learn.

Elaine O’Connor

Middle school at a Catholic school was really different than I expected since I went to public school for elementary school. I didn’t think I would be going to such a small school, but it ended up being better because the school community members were close to each other.
We weren’t online very long, which I feel like was a huge advantage. After we began in-person, my school experience has been really fun, such a good time in my life.
I think the most important Catholic school lesson I’m taking away is that community is always important. Being in the small school environment and going to church has always involved a community of parents, friends, and people who have known each other for a long time. This has taught me that I should be a part of a community and always have people to count on.
I am most looking forward to having a language class. I am going to take ASL in high school, which really excites me.

Makani Pham
My experience at St. Katharine Drexel Academy as a middle school student has been interesting, to say the least. I went through online school elsewhere (not a Catholic school) for my sixth-grade year, so the transition from a non-Catholic school (online) to a(n) (in-person) Catholic school was easy. The material I was learning wasn’t drastically different and the teachers were easy to adjust to. Having new classmates was different at first but it was easy to get to know everyone and make friends. My two years at SKDA  have been really fun and smooth sailing.
Going into high school, I have learned lessons from being in a Catholic school environment. The most important things have been getting to know the community and accepting one another and helping each other out. It’s important to go to school in a small environment at some point during your education because it helps you to develop social skills.
For me, it helped being in a smaller environment because I got to know everyone relatively well instead of barely knowing everyone at the school. It’s good to also have many teachers teaching subjects rather than one teacher for all your subjects so that you can understand different teaching styles.
I’m going to Cathedral Catholic High School and what I am looking forward to is the transition from a small school to a gigantic one. The other thing is that I will barely know any of my fellow freshman classmates (let alone the entire school).

Frank Pirrone
A couple lessons that I have learned is to always be yourself no matter what, forgive your enemies or someone that has done you wrong, be nice to everyone, and don’t get into people’s business.don’t get into people’s business.

St. Kieran School 

Aja Antonio
As a student who has been at St. Kieran for 10 years, maturing from elementary to middle school was quite an experience. As I have grown up with many of my classmates in this school, I have also grown with God. Throughout my time in a Catholic middle school, I have been taught to do hard things with God’s help. Middle school is generally a hard stage in life because you are in between being a teenager and a kid, and I think that Jesus was able to help me through that because He was able to guide me through it and made me who I am today, graduating soon to high school.
As I make my way to high school, there are two key things that I will take with me these next four years. One is to love of your neighbor. Nowadays, it is shown on social media that many high school kids show hatred and resentment for each other while we should all just forgive and love everyone. Another Catholic lesson I will take with me along my high school journey is to always rely and pray to God. Many people believe that going into a public high school will take you away from your religion, but in my case, this isn’t true. I will always pray to God when I am going through tough times in my schoolwork and life.
In conclusion, my time in a Catholic middle school has taught me many things as I have grown. In high school, I will be looking forward to the fun experiences, such as rallies, football games, dances, and all the exciting encounters that I will have.

Kaylee Battenfield
I am beyond thankful that I have spent my middle school years at St Kieran’s. I am blessed that I walk into the classroom every day with the same kids I walked into the classroom with at four years old. I’ve been taught so many valuable lessons and one of the most important being that God always has a plan. I will be attending a public high school in the fall and I believe that God will guide me through my next four years. I know I can always come back to my parish when times are tough or I just need a moment to reflect on myself. The community at my school has truly been a vital part of my upbringing. However, I am excited to start a new chapter of my life guided by the Lord and my faith. I am confident that I will always have my faith to support me and the people I surround myself with.

Sofia Cable
Encouraging, positively influencing, and preoperational. That is how I would describe middle school at St. Kieran Catholic School. Despite various challenges and preceding through what many say is the hardest point of schooling, I must say my years at St. Kieran were not only beneficial but also completely justifiable. It was an experience I know must be like none other. Catholic schooling has taught me millions of lessons but I suppose the one I will hold above all others, and remember distinctly in high school, is that you should never let other people, or other things distract you, or pull you away from God.

I am aware that high school will be full of people who do not believe in what I do, and that it will be utterly different from the school community I am surrounded by currently. That is why this lesson is so important. If I can remember not to let others pull me from God, then instead I can bring others to Him.

I am tremendously excited for high school, and here’s why: there will be so many people, and I will truly have a new start. I know it will feel great to be able to completely express myself without the anxiety that I will disappoint or embarrass myself in front of the few people I will always be around. Other than that, I am also especially thrilled to not have a uniform; let’s just say Catholic school has brought me to God, and ostracized me from any chance of ever appreciating plaid skirts.

Auston Dunn
The reason why I like this school is because every day I meet some people at the school who care about me. The subjects I like at the school are math and literature because they inspire me to become an engineer like my dad, an artist, or a basketball player, so I can make him feel proud of me when I’m going to high school at Cathedral Catholic or Mater Dei.

Mario Filippone
The main lessons taught at this school are to be nice to others and to follow in the footsteps of God. One other lesson that I will take with me when I go into high school is to be respectful to all my teachers. The main reason I am excited to go to high school is having lots of friends and doing sports. I am glad I went to St. Kieran and I am glad for all the great people I have met.

Francis Isho
When I first came to this school in fourth grade I had no friends. It took me time to fit in but over time I made friends and those friends are with me today. In middle school it’s so fun because you make friends in other classes and you stay with them for a long time. The most important thing at my Catholic school is to treat everyone how you would want to be treated. This is the most important thing I am taking with me when I go to high school. When I go there, I am looking forward to making new friends and getting good grades.

Tayah Lewis
Catholic education is very important to me, so I feel extremely blessed to have been able to attend Catholic school since preschool. At St. Kieran’s, I have had so many great opportunities and experiences that strengthened my faith in big ways. The most important thing I learned from my eleven years in Catholic school is that your faith can help you through anything; that it’s your greatest superpower. I’ve been taught that you can use your faith to help others in ways that could change their lives. Going into high school, I am excited to create new memories and continue to grow in my faith. Catholic school has been extremely important in shaping me into the person I am today, and I can’t imagine where I would be without it.

Jovanni Mansour
My middle school experience at my Catholic school has been fun, and it has been a great. I’ve learned many new things about God and about how to make the right choices. The most important lesson that I will take with me to high school is to treat everyone the same no matter their differences. Another one is to treat any adult with great respect. The things that I’m looking forward to in high school are sports and meeting new people.

Finn Massey
I would describe the experience at my school as religious and flexible, and it can help me succeed in my education. St. Kieran Catholic school helps me learn my religion better, for example there are youth group activities which include Bible readings and making food bags for people in need. I would say the most important Catholic lesson that I am taking into high school is to have respect for other cultures and their religions, and to have respect for all peoples. What I am most looking forward to in high school is the new experiences and lessons I am going to learn. I will also be able to meet new people and make new friends.

Gillian McKindley
Complicated, enjoyable, and hard-working are some words to describe Catholic middle school. Throughout anyone’s life there are ups and downs and I think being at the school has helped me get through tough times faster. Through this I have learned that when others are not being the most friendly, find someone who will be your friend. In high school I am most looking forward to the new people I will meet.

Nicholas McKindley
his is my last year at my school and it has been an amazing experience. The teachers are amazing, and I learn so much about God and education, like math, science, history, etc. I have been at this school for 11-12 years, and they have shaped me into the person I am today. The staff has taught me many things, and they encouraged me to take up altar serving, and I absolutely love it. I serve all the time now at Masses and funerals. Very valuable lessons have been taught to me good and bad that I will take to high school and even past then.  I will never God’s commandments, “Do to others as you would want done to you” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I will take those lessons forever with me. I’m looking forward to learning new skills, making new friends, and playing sports in high school. I think it will be very exciting years in my life, and I can’t wait for them. I want to share with everyone what I know about God and hope that they will follow in Jesus’ footsteps as well. Thank you for listening!

St. Michael’s School

Anna Schumacher
At first,  middle school was hard and confusing, because during sixth grade, when we were online some weeks and in person the others, it was not easy to get used to, and everything was new and different. However, even with all of the difficult restrictions, sixth grade ended up being one of my favorite years at St. Michael’s. I really enjoyed it because it felt like our class was in our own little bubble, and even though we didn’t get to do things, like go to sixth grade camp, we made the best of it and still had a lot of fun. In seventh grade, when we went back to switching classes, having sports again, and not wearing masks outside, it was a huge relief because it felt like school was a little bit more normal and familiar again.
Some lessons that I have learned over my years in middle school are, God will be there for you if you ever need Him, especially if you are stressed or going through something. Also, you should never feel alone, because God is always with you and there are people that will be there for you. Sometimes, it can feel like everything is ending, but trust that God will create a lot of new beginnings. There is good in everything if you look for it, and God will guide you.
In high school, I am looking forward to going to football games, and playing high school sports, like softball and volleyball. I am also looking forward to a school with more people in every grade, an overall bigger community. I am excited for things like spirit weeks, and other fun high school activities, like pep rallies. Also, I look forward to dances and other social high school events.
Overall, my middle school experience at St. Michael’s has been really great despite Covid and other trials. I have learned not just more in academics, but a lot of life lessons that I can carry forward, and I am very grateful for them.

St. Pius X School

Joseph Walker
I would describe my sixth grade year as an interesting one. We started the year virtually, but were eventually allowed to transition to a “hybrid” method of education, where four days a week we could attend school while on Fridays we would virtually attend Mass and afterwards school. Since we were a small group who tried “hybrid,” everyone felt more united as we had just come out of an isolation from each other since March.
The years after returned to normal and everyone returned. We weren’t majorly impacted in our education. In fact, the new methods of adapting to online school were effective enough to still be in use today.
Some of the most important Catholic school lessons I’m taking with me to high school is to feel motivated to learn. We should all try our best to excel in our favorite subject, especially those which we dislike. Doing something we dislike can be beneficial because we can be so focused on finishing that we truly do it. Another lesson I’ll take to high school is to stay mentally organized.
The most exciting thing that I can’t wait for in high school is the new communities that will be available to me. I think that being focused on one group, one singular thing can be bad for us because we can’t grow and adapt as easily to other experiences. Experiences are beneficial to us whether they are positive or negative.
Change is good, even if it is a bit sad.

Siena Krokel
My seventh- and eighth-grade Catholic middle-school experience allowed me to focus on classwork and interacting with my classmates. I think I was able to learn more effectively and have far more fun with my friends and classmates than I did in the sixth grade, when we went to school almost exclusively online. The online classroom had many distractions and technical glitches, which made the entire experience boring and frustrating. Going to school online for the sixth grade was one of the most un-fun things I ever had to do.

Two of the Catholic middle school lessons I will take with me to high school include the benefits of teamwork and the value of a strong relationship with God. A strong relationship means that He is with me to help guide my decisions to ensure I am being the best student, friend and classmate that I can be.

 

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