Middle School students should have the opportunity to shadow freshmen

Sofia Sant'Anna-Skites, Opinion Writer

Although Shadow Day was cancelled several years ago, administration should bring it back for prospective freshmen to gain beneficial experience.

Shadow Day would provide an excellent opportunity for middle school students to get a taste for the large school environment before plunging into the school year. The half-day would allow students to pair up with alumni from their middle schools and attend their morning classes. It is not enough for students, particularly those from smaller schools such as Baker Demonstration School or Roycemore, to only attend events such as information sessions or tours. They deserve the chance to gain firsthand experience by sitting in on classes.

Some middle school students suffer from transitional anxiety. Visiting on a regular day, however, can appease their fears. Spending time with a student can be exciting and calming as they observe the norms of ETHS.

During the 2012-2013 school year, approximately 60 students from 14 different middle schools participated in Shadow Day. It was canceled because public school students could not participate, which was unfair for those who wanted to be a part of the day. New Student Transition Coordinator Alicia Hart explains that students from large public middle schools and students from smaller private schools may share similar feelings towards entering ETHS. However, it isn’t practical to allow all schools to participate. If Shadow Day had existed this year, up to 1,006 students could have come. This would have been more distracting than beneficial for both students and teachers. It is hard to maintain a productive and authentic class environment when there are too many 8th graders.

While an exclusive Shadow Day may seem unfair to students coming from schools such as Haven or Chute, it cannot hurt them in any way. Instead, the day can help students from certain independent schools to become acquainted with passing periods, bell schedules and cafeterias.

Many students face difficult decisions when choosing between high schools. It is common for kids from private middle schools to attend private as well as public high schools. Witnessing a school day in action can help them decide whether or not they want to spend the next four years of their lives at ETHS. There is only so much reading about high school that prospective Evanston families can do. Word of mouth and extracurricular fairs can also assist with the decision-making process, but students deserve the chance to gain understanding of the school’s environment through experience.