As I made my rounds on the first day of school, I overheard a 6th grade girl make a comment to two of her classmates upon returning to the hallway outside her old 5th grade room: “Don’t you just feel a little bit taller?” The comment made me realize the reason why I had a huge smile on my face that first day of school as I checked out students and teachers in all three divisions.
This 6th grade girl was, in fact, a little bit taller and her comment was actually reflective of a young person who is quite self-aware. She was probably a bit different in other ways as well – such is the pattern of growing and maturing, such is the matter of moving from grade to grade in a good school.
The 9th graders had a similar experience as they navigated their first day in the Upper School. This group, many of whom I saw every day in action a year ago when they were 8th graders, seemed not only to be taller, but were standing a little bit straighter, walking more purposefully and were a bit more engaged in the manner they communicated – there was a new maturity and greater sense of belonging.
Finally, figuratively, being a little bit taller describes our seniors, the class or 2015. On the first day of school, I observed them, as a group, in a class meeting getting information about the day, the week and the year. Expectations were clarified, and questions asked and answered. Through the course of the meeting a reality set in – this was it, senior year, a year they had been waiting for — a year where they are in charge, they will set the tone, they will lead the way. It was clear to me there is no question they are ready, no question they will step up.
As I took a step back and processed things, I got the very clear sense the 6th graders were ready for Middle School, the 9th graders more than ready for Upper School and the seniors right where they need to be (and where we want them to be) as seniors.
What made me so confident of this readiness? They are all a “little bit taller.”
North Shore Country Day is a private, college-prep school for high school, middle school and elementary school students in Winnetka, IL, a suburb of Chicago.