In late January, about 50 former students returned to High Meadows for Alumni Night which features a panel discussion open to the school community. Middle Years
Teachers Anne Lovatt
and Issac Wolf
, both High Meadows graduates, moderated the panel in which 10 alumni shared honest insight about how to prepare for life beyond the meadows. See the list of panelists and highlights of their advice below.
Class of 2018
- Katie Griffin, North Springs Charter High School
- Ryan Peacock, The Galloway School
Class of 2017
- Drew Finarelli, The Walker School
- Mackenzie Paschal, Roswell High School
Class of 2016
- Judy Denning, Walton High School Stem Academy
Class of 2015
- David Hauser, Chattahoochee High School
- Foster Ellis, The Paideia School
- Anna Cave, Centennial High School
- Class of 2012: Elisabeth McDonnell, Roswell High School, Georgia Institute of Technology
- Class of 2011: Mattie Worsham, Rivers Academy, Emory University
Read below for some key pieces of advice from the panelists and check out this video of highlights from Alumni Night.
From Private Middle School to Public High School: Alumni Advice
Who Turned Out the Lights?
Panelists shared some things that surprised them when they went to high school.
- Anna: It took time to adjust to being inside all day and having less light coming from High Meadows where we were outside so much.
- Elisabeth: At High Meadows, everyone has an appetite for learning. Not all people in high school have that. It’s hard to adjust to that.
- Mackenzie: At High Meadows, kids respect teachers and have a strong work ethic. That’s not all the same in high school.
- David: I was surprised that kids care about grades. That can come at the expense of learning. Don’t get caught up in grade grubbing.
Develop Relationships with Your Teachers
Get to know your high school teachers and advocate for what you need were resounding messages from panelists.
- Elisabeth: At High Meadows, I learned the importance of developing relationships with my teachers. If you are respectful of teachers and learning from them, they are respectful of you.
- Mackenzie: High Meadows helps you know how to advocate and talk with your teachers if you don’t understand something.
- Mattie: My key takeaway is don’t be afraid to ask questions. I’m able to tell teachers I don’t know what they’re talking about and ask them for help.
All I Need to Know for High School, I Learned at High Meadows
Panelists overwhelmingly said that High Meadows gave them a desire to learn and prepared them well for ninth grade and beyond. Several noted that they still use some of the study guides they prepared in eighth grade!
- Anna: Ninth grade covered a lot of what I learned in eighth grade. The outlines Mr. Wolf makes you do now will help you later too! Listen to your teachers in eighth grade about what you should take in high school.
- Judy: High Meadows helped bolster my confidence in public speaking through Exhibition, Learning Museums, and Emphasis. They all help you learn to how to research and practice speaking. This helps you in high school.
- Katie: The study skills you are learning now in eighth grade will help you in high school.
- Drew: Keep your old tests and quizzes! They are very helpful.
Finding Your High School Tribe
Audience members’ questions focused in part on how to best transition to high school and navigate a new social scene. The alumni members gave reassuring advice on how to meet friends and the importance of trying new activities.
- Mattie: Remember that everybody’s new.
- Judy: When you first start out, it’s going to feel weird. I challenged myself to talk with one new person a day. Remember to put yourself out there.
- Drew: Get into extra-curricular activities in eighth grade; try them out. The people I met in those are my friends now.
- Katie: If you find something that you’re passionate about at High Meadows, look for that in high school.
Balancing Academics and Extra-Curricular Activities
Part of the discussion centered around how to balance classes, clubs, and sports.
- Elisabeth: Your extracurricular activities should be your time to breathe, not a burden. Find activities that are for you and that bring you joy.
- Foster: Develop efficiencies early in high school so you can handle the logistics challenges and workload.
- Ryan: Make sure you’re conscious of what you’re spending your time on.
- Mackenzie: Work at your own pace. Don’t follow the pressure of what everyone else is doing. Get involved in activities. Try some out at least.
Pearls of Wisdom
The panelists and moderators shared a few final pieces of advice.
- Issac: Learning is relational. Cultivate those relationships.
- Foster: You need a strong sense of self when it comes to peer pressure. Present who you genuinely are.
- Judy: Look for STEM and Honors programs in high school. They have a hands-on learning approach like High Meadows does.
- David: Care. If you are in a place where you don’t care, try to figure out what got you there and get out.
- Mattie: Don’t lose sight of who you are as an HMS eighth grader. You’ll come back to this time and see how it formed who you are.
- Anne: When you have a high level of learning and a passion for learning, you can do anything.