At our first Town Meeting, the Colorado Academy Eighth Grade Leadership Team introduced themselves and shared a bit of wisdom with their peers. In this case the wisdom came in the form of advice from a turtle, a wolf, an elephant, and a baby bird. Because students sometimes “hear” suggestions better from their peers AND because it’s just plain GOOD advice, I would like to share here what they created.

Many of us have read Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten, but I will put forward that if our students take the advice presented by these Eighth Graders, they will be well positioned for success this year and beyond. While so much of the advice is on the mark, I would like to spotlight four suggestions.

From the baby bird: “Don’t be afraid to leave the nest.”—this is HUGE for Middle School kids. The Middle School years are the time for adolescents to spread their wings, practice flying, make mistakes, and develop greater independence.

From the elephant: “Don’t let the problems and challenges pierce your thick skin.”—no question there will be problems! There will be academic challenges, social challenges, family challenges, and the list goes on. Learning the skills to be able to manage whatever may come your way (and getting help when you need it!) are critical tasks for adolescents.

From the wolf: “Work as a pack—ask your peers for help.”—learning about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, how you are like others and different is part of the Middle School journey. Our Middle School is a community, a place where students can ask for and get help. They can turn toward their peers, their teachers, their family, or our counselors. Learning that we are stronger together than alone can be a foundational lesson.

From the sea turtle: “Be the bright light to guide students.”—at the end of the day, after all the learning and growth that happens, we hope that our students will be the “light” to help others find their way. This ethos of giving and supporting others is such an important aspect of the CA community.

Unquestionably, there will be twists and turns to this school year that none of us will be able to anticipate. Isn’t it nice that we ALL now have some turtle, wolf, elephant, and baby bird wisdom to fall back on as needed. Thanks, Eighth Grade Leadership Team!