High school.  Think piles of homework, jammed lockers, running late into class because you got lost, super competitive athletics, and the ever-intimidating seniors strolling the halls.  While it’s certainly not all like this, these are some of the images that we associate with high school, thanks to movies and stories we may have seen and heard.  In reality, the transition from middle school to high school is a time of marked change, which can be scary and intimidating to navigate, but exciting at the same time.  High school brings new freedoms and responsibilities, as well as a restructured social order in which freshmen find themselves, again, at the bottom of the pile. 

But for many of Maine’s island students, the transition to high school also means a transition to attending school off-island, adding an extra level of complication that most students never need to consider.  Will I be taking a ferry to school each day?  Attending boarding school?  Boarding on the mainland?  Moving to the mainland?  If I take the ferry, is the last boat late enough so I can get back home after my basketball game?

Caroline talks with a group of students

This past weekend, island students from six of Maine’s year-round, unbridged islands braved gale warnings to discuss this and more at the Maine Seacoast Mission’s annual Middle School Retreat in Belfast.  Middle School Retreat provides a time for students to come together, share their hopes and fears about the upcoming transition, and hear from students and school administrators about what they realistically should expect. 

To help you step into their shoes, here are seven questions island middle school students had about the upcoming transition to high school:

  1. How did you come up with your on/off/commuter schedule, and how is that going for you?
  2. How do you handle/get used to MORE (people, space, etc.)?
  3. How much time do you spend on homework, and when do you find that time? 
  4. How do you balance making new friends and keeping your island friends?
  5. How do you manage the extras (sports, student council, band, clubs), including navigating the ferry schedule?
  6. How long did it take/what helped you get used to your new schedule?
  7. Who can I go to ask for help, and how do I know when they are free?

What do you wish you’d known before entering high school?

Contributed by

Caroline Moore