7th Grade Orientation

Today I went to the informational meeting at HPMS for parents of 2010-2011 7th graders. They presented the scoop on electives, athletics and how to count foreign language as a high school credit. It was eye-opening. Now I find myself second guessing the long term plan I had for my daughter which went kind of like this:  Keep on dancing, continue shooting hoops as long as it’s fun, make good grades, be a Chi Omega, and then have a cool career that makes you super happy.

Questions not answered in today’s orientation:

  1. Does she need high school French 1A in 7th for the plan outlined above?
  2. What ever happened to girls taking home economics and boys taking shop class?

16 thoughts on “7th Grade Orientation

  • February 18, 2010 at 2:01 pm
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    Hooboy, welcome to the big leagues Ms. Merritt. The deal is, you have to have a minimum of 3 years of a foreign language to get a college to speak to you. Four years is better. If you know for sure that you want to take French or Spanish, it’s a good idea to start in 7th or 8th grade and get a leg up, because those aren’t the easiest classes in high school – it can’t hurt. If you think they’ll be taking Latin, then wait until Freshman year of high school for the language – same with Manduran Chinese. More boys than girls take Latin, a lot of serious students – academic achievers if you will – take Latin. Before people jump me – academic achievers take spanish and french too! I’m just sayin’….

    In 8th grade you can take high school health & speech – you need a semester of each to graduate high school. EXCELLENT classes to get out of the way in Jr. High or summer school.

    If the dance is all in prep for being a Belle, and she loves basketball so wanted to be on that team as well – then she better be an excellent and well organized student by the time she’s a freshman. To carry a full academic load – much less a load sprinkled with Pre-AP classes so she can take the oh so important AP classes the rest of high school – AND be a Belle AND be on a sports team is a very, very full load. It’s done, but it’s a jam packed, go-go-go, better have high energy, a strong work ethic and masterful organizational skills galore. Much less if she has any interest in working on the yearbook, the newspaper, she sings or plays an instrucment, wants to debate or swim, or row crew. New opportunities await in high school that might really appeal to her if she thinks about it – and now’s the time to start thinking.

    Bottom line – you need to look ahead to high school to make your middle school decisions if you have a high energy, eager achiever of a kid. It pays off.

    Shop and home ec are both gone. Long ago, I believe. Kids no longer know how to cook, sew or fix a car. Hell who could work on today’s hyper-computerized cars, anyway? Might as well take computer courses.

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  • February 18, 2010 at 2:12 pm
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    You’re giving me too much credit with the Belle and b-ball team thing, the dance and hoops part of the plan is because toe shoes are pretty and it’s really fun to use your height for something that gets you points on a board.

    Thanks, I’ll go get a Xanex prescription and re-draft my daughter’s life now.

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  • February 18, 2010 at 3:09 pm
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    I’ll share the xanax. Something has to take me down from the Adderall.

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  • February 18, 2010 at 5:17 pm
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    The thing I don’t like about taking Health and Speech in 8th grade is that it doesn’t count towards the GPA in high school (both my kids got good A’s in those classes, would be nice if it counted). Home Ec is called Skills for Living and the teacher that teaches that class is great. My son learned how to sew pajama bottoms and they baked cookies etc. He took that class in 7th and 8th grade.

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  • February 18, 2010 at 5:39 pm
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    Wait until you get to 8th grade and hit and high school meeting … 7th grade is nothing! My friends with older kids referred me to someone who can help my daughter with her four year plan. Yes, they want you to make a four year plan in 8th grade … talk about Xanex. It’s my understanding you cant change your freshman year once turned in but can change the remaning three (thank goodness!) Want to be a belle? You probably should do off-campus athletics and sign up for 15 hours a week of dance and start saving for privates! My overachieving daughter is doing 18 hours a week and just informed me that she is not going to camp or any vacations this summer because she is doing so well and doesnt want to regress!!!! Insane … just hoping she makes it. Somehow she still has straight A’s. And yes, do the langauges, Math if you test in, and definitely health and speech.

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  • February 18, 2010 at 9:16 pm
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    kmom, I do not doubt you are at least somewhat correct about all this planning. But for what it’s wortth, I don’t think we should put so much pressure on our kids. Make them study, but also let them enjoy school and the activities/sports in which they participate. We need parents to be involved, but too much parental micromanaging has messed up a lot of kids over the years. For example, look up the cautionary tale of Todd Marinovich…

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  • February 19, 2010 at 8:31 am
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    Pigskinnie, trust me, it’s not that simple. To let your kids stumble around in high school is foolish these days. Too much is at stake for high achievers who need have a solid four years to get into a college like UT. Back when, all it took to get into UT was either be in the top 1/2 of your class or have a 1000 on your SAT. It was much easier to let your kids mess up without major consequences to their future. I’m not saying checking your sophomore’s homework, but helping your kid manage his/her schedule is not too involved.

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  • February 19, 2010 at 9:02 am
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    Can someone explain to me why the district only starts offering Spanish in 7th grade? I took Latin in high school but it’s a dead language. Spanish and Chinese on the other hand–look around.

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  • February 19, 2010 at 9:12 am
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    I am told health and speech can be taken in the summer. Also, I think Dr. orr is trying to make available the option to do other sports in 7-8 grade such as gymnastics and wrestling.

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  • February 19, 2010 at 10:41 am
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    M, I think the reason for only two languages is scheduling electives for 500+ kids. If they offer only two languages they can have enough students to have a class each period. It’s also probably difficult/expensive/hard to find a space in the crowded building to have a teacher who only has two or three classes unless the instructor can teach another language or subject. (Although maybe they could have two part-time teachers for Latin and Chinese.) Health and Speech can be taken in the summer but it’s six weeks of classes 7 hours a day if you take both.

    Something new to consider. The state has changed requirements so that you don’t need specific electives such as speech, health, or PE to graduate. You just need a total number of credits from those subjects. HPISD decided not to change their requirements at this time, but you don’t know what the district will do three or four years from now.

    Also there is TAG speech offered only in the summer. Students get a grade bump because it’s a TAG class which is good for the GPA.

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  • February 19, 2010 at 11:40 am
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    I completely agree, @pigskinnie – far too much pressure and far too little LIVING for the high schoolers. I definately wrote all that as a cautionary tale! Kids that want to do too much are stressed beyond belief, the homework load is just tremendous, if you are in AP courses the homework, quiz and test load is quite stressful. To try and do two extracurriculars is amazingly difficult – say your kid wants to do a sport and sing, dance, write, play an instrument – ANY two extracurriculars together can spell doom because of the time constraints. And that’s a shame. Say your kid is in band and crew, in the fall he will have to be at school at 6:45am for marching rehearsal, then after school he’ll have to be at White Rock at 4pm until I believe 6pm. He’ll be at a football game every Friday night until almost midnight, and he’ll have an out of town meet for crew every Saturday. Then he has to eat, shower and do loads of homework sometime as well. While there are some parents pushing for the overload on their kids, many times it’s the kids themselves putting on the pressure and the overload. They need the parents to help them rein in on taking on too much, just as much as the parents pushing their kids too hard need to cool it.

    Summer school is a good way to get things out of the way like Speech/Health, but it starts immediately after the school year ends and is Mon-Fri 7:00am to 12:30pm (I think – I know the 7:00am is right.) which is a bummer.

    I’m saying it’s not too early to start really pondering choices in 7th grade. Get the curriculum book from the high school, sneak into the 8th grade parents high school orientation. If you are informed now, you’ll be way less stressed when you come to this point in the year next year with your 8th grader.
    And Xanex is good, as is Ambien. And wine. All good.

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  • February 19, 2010 at 1:42 pm
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    Good lord! What ever happened to enjoying school, both academically and socially?? I’m surprised these kids don’t go completely nuts when they get to college and have some freedom to do what they want to do on their own schedule. Then again, I’ve had lots of HP kids in my classes who burned out of their 4-year schools because they couldn’t handle the freedom. Good kids, every single one.

    And Merritt: Maybe your wee one will want to be a Pi Phi. I mean, if she’s smart, that is. 😛

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  • February 19, 2010 at 2:23 pm
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    Laurie–I have no problem with the district offering two languages but let’s pick two RELEVANT ones.

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  • February 19, 2010 at 3:01 pm
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    Spanish is relevant! Probably the next most important one is Chinese. I think French could go, don’t you? It’s lovely, but not that useful, except when you go on your vacation to France.

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  • February 19, 2010 at 8:23 pm
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    Keep in mind that if your child takes Spanish or French in 7th and 8th grade, they’ll be in Spanish or French II with almost all upperclassmen in their Freshman year. At the same time, they’ll be slammed with their pre-AP classes (which you HAVE TO take because you HAVE TO take AP classes…), an extracurricular activity and just generally being a freshman learning how to study and trying to find their way. Might not be a good combination for your child. See if you can get the school to tell you how many freshman fail at least one six weeks or one semester of Spanish/French II? My guess is you won’t be able to find out and my other guess is that it’s a reasonably shocking percentage. Margaret Arnold also said to remember that a language class in middle school is the same as another math class with regard to the homework load. This was a solid three years of torture at my house!
    On a different note, why are these classes called “Language other than English”? What the heck happened to “Foreign Language”? Is there some stupid politically incorrect connotation to Foreign Language?

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